A Tired Facebook User’s Perspective on its Many Scandals.

by Liam Kennedy

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal has led to a seismic shift in Facebook’s business model. It no longer allows third-party data in targeting ads, and has limited developers’ access to account data for smartphone apps. Facebook has promised to investigate apps requesting access to such data, even going so far as to conduct audits for suspicious behavior (Kastrenakes, 2018).

Despite these acts of accommodation, Facebook has seen its stock value drop by about $80 Billion since the scandal was revealed (La Monica, 2018). It has additionally led to several public figures — such as Elon Musk — removing their pages from the site entirely. Even more shocking however was the report which suggested that 1 in 20 British citizens intended to delete their Facebook accounts due to its role in providing personal data to Cambridge Analytica (Tan, 2018).

What’s particularly frustrating about this scandal regarding Facebook and its use of personal information is that we have been down this path before. In 2007, Facebook introduced Beacon, which was meant to be a user-generated product referral program. It drew anger because it easily allowed users’ transactions to be made public for all their friends to see (Farber, 2007). It was done without the users’ knowledge, and gave no option to prevent these actions. The service resulted in a class-action lawsuit which led to Beacon’s shutdown in 2009 (Metz, 2009).

In 2011, it was reported that Facebook was tracking the websites that users were coming from, and going to. This tracking also extended to any non-members that was visited one of Facebook’s web pages for any reason (Acohido, 2011). Imagine even visiting one of their pages completely by accident and unknowingly have your web activity monitored! The company insisted then that it “does not track users across the web (Blue, 2014).” In 2014 however, Facebook announced that it would be doing just that. This predictably led to privacy lawsuits, with the practice being banned across the European Union (Lomas, 2018).

In this day and age, it is a given that our activities on the internet and social media will be tracked and monitored in some way, shape, or form. We practically consent to it when we create new social media accounts; it is how these free websites remain afloat. All of this would not be so terrible however, if users had the option to have no part of it. It is well known that Facebook allows users to view the information collected on them in the form of a downloadable file (Matsakis, 2018). It would be far more tolerable if Facebook not only allowed users to delete their profiles, but all the information associated with it.

Because when a Facebook user decides that it’s time to go, it means that any monitoring of their online selves must go. They take advantage of their users to make money, presumably because those users have chosen to be on Facebook. When people decide to leave, that advantage must be brought to an end, full stop.

                                                References

Acohido, B. (2011, November 15). Facebook tracking is under scrutiny. USA Today. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20111116071618/http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2011-11-15/facebook-privacy-tracking-data/51225112/1

Blue, V. (2014, June 17). Facebook turns user tracking ‘bug’ into data mining feature for advertisers. ZDNet. Retrieved from https://www.zdnet.com/article/facebook-turns-user-tracking-bug-into-data-mining-feature-for-advertisers/

Farber, D. (2007, November 29). Facebook Beacon update: No activities published without users proactively consenting. ZDNet. Retrieved from https://www.zdnet.com/article/facebook-beacon-update-no-activities-published-without-users-proactively-consenting/

Kastrenakes, J. (2018, March 21). Facebook will limit developers’ access to account data. The Verge. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/21/17148726/facebook-developer-data-crackdown-cambridge-analytica

La Monica, P.R. (2018, March 27). Facebook has lost $80 billion in market value since its data scandal. CNN. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/27/news/companies/facebook-stock-zuckerberg/index.html

Lomas, N. (2018, February 19). Facebook’s tracking of non-users ruled illegal again. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/19/facebooks-tracking-of-non-users-ruled-illegal-again/

Matsakis, L. (2018, March 28). What to look for in your Facebook data-and how to find it. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/download-facebook-data-how-to-read/

Metz, C. (2009, September 23). Facebook turns out light on Beacon. The Register. Retrieved from https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/23/facebook_beacon_dies/

Tan, E. (2018, April 2). One in 20 Brits delete Facebook accounts after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Campaign Live. Retrieved from https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/one-20-brits-delete-facebook-accounts-cambridge-analytica-scandal/1460836