My concerned mother sent me screenshots of a message that invaded her Messenger inbox last month, allegedly originating from Mr. Facebook himself. It asked Facebook users to “forward this message to 18 of your friends otherwise by 6pm tomorrow you will have to pay, according to the law”.
I told my mum it was a fake message, and she should expect more of them in the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s 10-hour, two-day testimony to the US Senate and Congress. The testimony followed Facebook’s admitting it knew that political research firm Cambridge Analytica’s scraped 87 million users’ data and used the information to influence voter opinion in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
•Lawmakers do not really understand how Facebook works
•Security is a problem that Facebook admittedly may never solve.
•Zuckerberg is open to discussion of government regulation of Facebook but will not concede fully to anything that would potentially blow apart their business model. It’s still unclear, however, what that regulation actually may be.
•Facebook’s “user agreement sucks”, per Senator John Kennedy, as its priority is to protect the company, rather than fully inform users of what they’re getting into. On the flipside, users are also at fault when they don’t read the privacy agreements and so don’t have a full understanding of how and what data is harvested and disseminated.
•People sell everything and anything through Facebook ads, including legal and illegal items, such as opioids.
•Paid membership to Facebook has not been ruled out.
•Facebook is not tapping the microphone on our mobile devices.
•Facebook takes responsibility for what people post.
In the aftermath of the snowballing scandal, what has come to light is that although more than 2 billion people are active Facebook users, most don’t know how FB actually operates, does business nor what personal data we compromise in order to use the social media service. “Connecting people and building community” isn’t the only priority of the social media giant, which we’ve all known to a certain extent, but haven’t necessarily taken the time to truly understand.
What we know
Most of us blindly create profiles without reading the fine print. I myself don’t understand the intricate workings of the platform and it is near impossible for me to attempt to explain Facebook’s user agreement in full. You’ll have to read it yourself to gain exact reference to the following points I find worthy of attention:
• The number one thing we have to know is that when we use Facebook, nothing we do is private. Nothing.
• When users consent to creating a profile, sending messages, clicking on content, watching videos, posting, reposting, sharing photos and “liking” pages, any of that data or analytics from that data is used at the company’s discretion. One revenue stream for Facebook is generated by selling personal data to brands, companies and analytics agencies.
• Facebook and its partners use our data to target ads directly to each of us.
• Privacy laws vary from region to region and affect the way Facebook operates in a particular country.
• Logging out doesn’t delete our Facebook footprint as personal content we’ve shared with other users are subject to their privacy settings. Even deleting our accounts will never make us fully Facebook free.
• Facebook location services have turned our mobile devices into personal tracking units.
• Lastly, if reading through the entirety of the user agreement, we think we know what we are agreeing to, Facebook reserves the right to alter the user agreement at any time.
What we don’t know
There has been scrutiny over how the privacy settings for our profiles actually work. Even Facbeook’s own FAQ documentation does not make it 100% clear.
Although Facebook discloses they may use our profiles and data for research and can sell our data without compensating us, we don’t fully know what exactly Facebook does with the data they collect and who they provide it to.
Yet to be confirmed, Facebook hasn’t admitted nor denied that even if you’re logged out of your account or not a user, when you visit a site or use an app that uses Facebook services they still receive information about how you are using the internet.
Cambridge Analytica came under fire for the scandal, however, there may be other companies out there who possess the same data set. It’s also interesting to note that Facebook didn’t properly follow-up with Cambridge Analytica to determine if all the data has been properly deleted from their possession.
How to check if your data was compromised by Cambridge Analytica?
Navigate to Facebook’s Help Center and search for “Cambridge” to get to the portal.
Whether you keep your Facebook account up and running is entirely your decision, but think twice about what’s really happening the next time you take a quiz to figure out which Star Wars character you are most like or turning your face into Game of Thrones’ Night King.