Facebook keeps up with the atrocious data privacy record

The latest revelation shows FB completely undeterred by a hefty fine, user backlash or a badly tarnished image

Faisal Khan
Nov 19 · 3 min read

Browsing the TV channels on the weekend, I came across the Hollywood flick The Social Network being aired on one of them. The recent data breaches started to wander across my mind as I decided to watch it. For those of you, who don’t know the movie is about the creation of Facebook from the dorms of Harvard University. More importantly, it’s about the controversy around the lawsuit of Winklevoss twins against Mark Zuckerberg.

After all the data breaches & privacy scandals in the last couple of years, I would probably say that the ‘evil dork’ portrayal of Zuckerberg in the movie might have some merit to it after all. You can watch the movie to see what I am talking about, but as far as the data privacy of the users is concerned the social media giant has just gone from bad to worse to atrocious.

Cambridge Analytics scandal brought the data privacy issue to the limelight, not just for Facebook but the rest of the big tech companies as well. Over the summer, we saw Amazon, Microsoft, Apple & Google getting involved in various data leaks. To complete the FAAMG circle, Facebook was accused that it paid hundreds of contractual workers to listen to users' voice recordings from its Messenger App.

In a follow-up move to do some damage control from the Cambridge scandal, Facebook restricted third-party access to user data, providing some tools to customize privacy settings, suspending tens of thousands of apps amid its internal review & the usual apologies. In a desperate attempt to show its seriousness, Facebook made some weird moves as well — one of which was to open Privacy Check-up Cafes where visitors can go to get tutored on how to customize their Facebook privacy settings along with free drinks.

Neither did the company show any urgency or seriousness towards rectifying the situation nor did these loosely put together steps proved any effective. Come September and it was reported that 419 million phone numbers of FB users spread over several databases covering a wide array of the geographical region were leaked.

And more recently, FB has revealed that 100 app developers could have accessed the user data, which included names and profile pictures, through a programming interface for Facebook groups. Although Facebook has declined to clarify how many users or groups might have been affected by the issue.

In the blog post, it said that 11 software developers were confirmed to have accessed the information within the last 60 days. The social media giant also stated that it has revoked the access of developers to the personal information and that a follow-up audit of the developers would be conducted to ensure the personal data has been deleted.

Apparently, all these string of admissions by Facebook have been a part of the effort to clean up its data practices, after a record-setting fine of $5 billion by the U.S Federal Trade Commission earlier this year. But fines don’t serve the purpose as we have seen previously, in the case of other big techs as well. And this was no exception either.

I still believe the social media giant has a lot more work to do before it can proclaim that it cares about users’ privacy. So do the regulators & lawmakers as they are increasingly reluctant to give the go-ahead to the company’s digital payment venture Libra. On the contrary, FB decided to exempt political ads from advertising false information.

And the statistics are even scarier (above) — despite 60% of the Americans not trusting FB with their personal info, the number of platform users continues to rise at home & globally. With the complete dominance of the social media scene, do you think Facebook even cares about users’ data privacy or upholding any ethical standards for that matter?

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Faisal Khan

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Content Specialist in Cryptocurrencies | Blockchain | Financial Markets | Technology | Future | Science | Space

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