Facebook Doesn't Seem to do Much to Earn our Trust

Posted by James on 5/8/19 10:40 AM

One of our favorite social media giants with whom we seem to have a love-hate relationship is back in the news as they are on the receiving end of a lawsuit by the attorney general from Washington, D.C. It seems as if they are always in and out of the public eye with some scandal or another. While they are holding true to their goal of connecting people, sometimes they do it a little too well—and at what expense? It’s becoming a little too common that they don’t quite have honesty as a top priority in terms of communicating and upholding the privacy policy governing their users’ personal data. Is their mantra not actually build community and bring the world closer together? Maybe it’s profit over privacy. This has gone so overboard it may be time for a breakup.

 

Cambridge Analytica scandal ran deep

In 2014 someone who had developer access to Facebook’s API scraped profile information and sold it to the now infamous political analysis company, Cambridge Analytica. Data from up to 87 million Facebook accounts was used to build psychological profiles on voters and push manipulative messages to them that appealed to their hopes and fears. This manipulation has been connected to Trump’s win in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook was slapped with a £500,000 fine from the UK because of such use of private data. It’s going to take a lot more than that to whip Facebook into shape, though.

 

Videos users deleted aren’t gone forever

The Cambridge Analytica scandal led to Facebook appearing before Congress to respond to congressional questions and be held accountable for keeping private user information private. This hearing led to Facebook allowing their users to download their information, which led to yet another disturbing discovery: Facebook still had videos that users had deleted from their own accounts. There really is no break. It doesn’t seem like Facebook can be controlled. Or maybe governing bodies just aren’t trying hard enough?

 

For a while we might have thought the last of that scandal was going to be the congressional hearing, but the attorney general of Washington, D.C. just filed a lawsuit against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a great step in the direction of making Facebook pay. Hopefully Facebook will take note that their stock prices dropped because of it.

 

Fake news through social media influenced 2016 elections

Facebook is responsible for being a huge propagator of fake news during the 2016 elections because Russians weren’t stopped from spreading misinformation. In fact, 40% of fake news site hits were from social media. It was found that the top 20 fake news stories in the 2016 election had greater engagement thant the top 20 real news stories related to the same election. Facebook should have been more responsible in shutting down the fake Russia Facebook accounts that purchased $100,000 in ads to support Trump’s win—alas, that seems too much to ask of them.

 

Independent “shadow profiles” kept on users and non-users

When Facebook users were downloading their Facebook data it was discovered that Facebook had “shadow profiles” on users that were independent of actual user profiles. These shadow profiles exist indefinitely despite a user profile being deleted and hold information that was never even on public profiles—such as social graph data, browsing history, cookies, and information from tracking pixels for Facebook users and non-users alike. What an invasion of privacy that we have zero control over.

 

Breaking FTC agreement

Back in 2011 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was asked to intervene and create stronger privacy laws for Facebook to abide by. Facebook signed an agreement to clearly and prominently display what information was being shared with 3rd parties and who those 3rd parties are. The FTC didn’t enforce the agreement, however, and in light of recent scandals, Facebook is likely to have broken it. The FTC is carrying out an investigation, but it could take a year to complete. If Facebook is found to have broken the agreement they could be slapped with a penalty in the billions of dollars. That may be the first penalty to hurt.

 

Stock value saw greatest plunge in single day

But something else that hurts is Facebook’s stock having its single greatest drop in one day since going public. On July 25 of this year it was valued at $217.50 and on July 26 it dropped to $176.26—a whopping 19% drop. This drop came with people having full knowledge of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but was accentuated by Facebook’s announcement of Q2 results and projections for the remainder of the year. Executives announced that their revenue growth was decreasing and operating expenses were increasing as they planned to hire 20,000 people to build up the security of their platform. On that day 170 million shares changed hands. They’ve since dropped to their lowest share value ($133.24) all year on December 19 when the lawsuit was filed against them by the attorney general of Washington, D.C.

 

Facebook: Hacked

In October of this year, yet another hack was announced. 30 million users had their information compromised. Half of those users are at serious risk. The information hackers accessed ranged from phone numbers and email addresses to most recent searches and location history. Imagine the damage that can be done with that…

 

Privacy policy broken to sharing data with other companies

It really does seem surreal that there is scandal after scandal. It was just made known that Facebook has had partnerships with 150 companies in which they shared users’ personal data to gain users. Companies including Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon were given access to users’ friends names, names, contact information, and private messages.

 

Facebook scans links and images in Messenger

Some Facebook employees feel like the company sees their growth as more important than the security of their users. Though the fact that Facebook scans links and images in Messenger messages “for the security of people”, the scans didn’t seem to meet their purpose when hate speech in Myanmar was spread. The data did not initiate any action on Facebook’s part. There is not even a “report” button and it took people bringing it up directly with Facebook executives to deal with the problem.

 

With Facebook being in the news right and left anyone who wasn’t initially concerned about the amount of data Facebook has access to and what they are doing with it is now. Since Facebook hasn’t seemed to make any quick or huge strides in being responsible with their users’ data how much longer do you want to trust them with your data? Is it time to make the jump to a decentralized system so one entity doesn’t have so much control over your entire life? This is a valid question everyone should be asking themselves now. How much should toleration should we have and when is it time to take a stand?

 

Topics: gdpr, Data ownership, Cybersecurity

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