THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Is it Time to #DeleteFacebook?
In the last decade, we have come to live in an age of social media and amplified technology. While at first many of us were wading through uncharted waters, now we are becoming acutely aware of the importance of online security and privacy. So, what's the deal with Facebook?
In this world of over-imposing technology, our purchases, keystrokes and movements are constantly being recorded. For years, companies have been harvesting these bits of information in order to tailor advertisements to their customers on a more personal level. This seems like good marketing, but, unfortunately, these data harvesting companies are not unassailable. Even the most mundane information can be a problematic tool in the hands of the wrong person. Predators can easily find victims.
Furthermore, the threat of a predator is not the only concern we face when our information is shared. Our information is being used by seemingly trusted companies for more than customer satisfaction purposes, such as insurance rates.
At this point, data breaches are becoming a little too commonplace. Consumers have fallen victim to both accidental and deliberate breaches of customer privacy from companies like Target, Equifax, Uber, Yahoo, and now Facebook.
Generally speaking, customers impacted by these breaches are concerned and upset. However, the Facebook data breach has elicited a different response. People are up in arms. The hashtag #deletefacebook is trending on Twitter, celebrities are evacuating the premises and the company suffered a dramatic hit to their stock prices.
So, why is the Facebook leak different? For starters, the information harvested was shared, not leaked. An estimated 50 million users were impacted in this decision. Most of these Facebook users remained unaware that their social media platform was transferring their personal information to a company called Cambridge Analytica. Now, due to Facebook's policy agreement, they were within their rights to do this … under the assumption that this was for the purposes of academic research. The problem with this is that if Cambridge Analytica makes the claim that they used this information for such purposes, then they are likely taking great liberties with the definition of "academic research."
So, is it time to #deletefacebook?
What this ultimately comes down to is the fact that Facebook users feel that they were bamboozled by the corporation who claims to value the privacy of its members. They are further upset by the decision to share information with Cambridge Analytica specifically, particularly given the accusations made against the company. The New York Times and UK media reported that Cambridge Analytica tried to influence American voters using information improperly gleaned from 50 million Facebook users. This feels a little unpatriotic, especially in a political climate that has become increasingly hostile.
It is hard to say how this will ultimately play out for Facebook. It is unlikely, in my opinion, that we will see the fall of the Facebook empire in the near future. That said, this could be a turning point in public opinion. At the very least, we can hope that Facebook moves to tighten their policies to protect their loyal members.
WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc came under further pressure from lawmakers, investors, advertisers and users on...