Facebook Did Nothing Wrong
Facebook Did Nothing Wrong
When it comes to data privacy, we're usually pretty trusting of web applications? But should we be? One dev breaks down the Facebook scandal.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
No, really. They didn't. They were within the law, and honest about what they were up to.
So let's take a quick look at what they've done. First, they gave access to account data to a couple of researchers (who happened to be affiliated with Cambridge Analytica). And then, well, that was it, right? I mean, it seems like it was.
Now, the data the researchers had access to was more than people expected, and the researchers didn't delete the data they were given when they were told to. And those researchers used that information to micro-target advertising during a presidential election.
Why is any of this a surprise?
We know Facebook targets advertising. We know they collect reams of personal information (including metadata associated with text messages and telephone calls). We know they construct shadow profiles on anybody associated with registered users. Plenty of people have written about this, and when you install Facebook apps, they ask your permission to collect most of this stuff. And people agree to it.
And this spans all the Facebook properties, including WhatsApp and Instagram. And, of course, they combine all this data to get as much information on you as they can. Why wouldn't they? I mean, that's how they can afford the rent in the Bay Area, after all.
Facebook did nothing wrong. The problem they have is that folks finally noticed that Facebook is less a social network, and more a surveillance platform. Especially now, after so many people have used it for so long. The amount of information they have on users is staggering, and now that people have learned about this, they've started to think about what it really means.
Not only do they know who you know, they know if you're dating someone new; they know if you're married; they know if you're having an affair; they know if you're likely to have an affair; they know if you're looking for a job; they know who your kids are; they know who your parents are; they know what kind of food you like; they know if you work out. This is just a small list of things they can learn about you from the information they collect.
And who can get this information? Well, you can. And, it turns out, just about anybody else could too. And it's about time this information was controlled. The EU already has privacy regulations in place; hopefully, the US will follow in their footsteps. Better the EU than China.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.