Facebook in Hot Water Again
June 8, 2018
Facebook, Google and other global leaders in the tech and internet community have been facing criticism as it came to light that their privacy protocols might not have been up to snuff. For Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it seems like the allegations are more severe than most, as Facebook has just been accused of allowing special access of user data to certain companies in exchange for money or privileges.
The company made deals, called whitelists, with these companies to share certain information about users even after 2015 when the site alleged to have built up privacy and security protocols. Court documents suggest that Facebook hasn’t been as honest with shareholders as they should have been when it comes to data collected, stored, and sold. The data being shared included information about user’s friends and family, colleagues, and businesses associated with these individuals. This meant phone numbers, addresses, email, and other data was up for grabs.
Companies in the Wrong
Research has shown that some of the companies Facebook struck these insider deals with included the Royal Bank of Canada, among others. These businesses, which also included Nissan, a car manufacturer, were allowed access to the greater collection of data because they were deemed more valuable than other companies or individuals using the site. Perhaps one of the most disturbing accessories to the scandal is the plethora of mobile phone manufacturers who benefited from this secret arrangement.
Facebook has been in court regarding these proceedings, facing the music, so to speak, regarding leaked information and data flow which could have swayed election data and other pertinent information. It’s become much less about sharing Sally’s email address with an ad company, and more about allowing negative propaganda to leak into social media based on user data.
Why All the Rule Breaking?
Facebook has explained that their reason behind the additional data sharing was simply to improve user experience and allow existing projects to continue and finish their collecting. They have said it was only a small number of businesses allowed to continue with the whitepages access, while all others were barred from obtaining such information without user permission. Unfortunately, users weren’t privy to this information and had little knowledge about the amount of data sharing going on behind closed doors.
Battling the Backlash
Since the news has come to light, Facebook lost many users, celebrity and civilian alike. They’ve also taken a hit at the stock market. This latest debacle might drop Facebook back down when they were just beginning to find their feet again. Among many other successful social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, Facebook had made it big and held the top dog seat for quite some time. These legal troubles have certainly changed all that, much to the delight of many other social media outlets, which are gaining popularity as Facebook flounders.
The Original Scandal
Facebook has been in trouble with the government since March when it became apparent that the social media giant had sold data on more than 80-million users around the United States to a company called Cambridge Analytica. The company had been hired by now U.S. President Donald Trump to assist in the 2016 campaign, which he won. Experts have called Facebook’s ethics into question, wondering whether Trump would have won the campaign without illegally obtaining this data and marketing himself to the masses. Unfortunately, the damage is done and the world has to wait to see what will become of the social media network and the companies associated with these wrongdoings.
This, of course, wasn’t the first time Facebook had allowed data mining of this kind. In 2007, the company gave leave to app and web developers to access user information, including the information of user’s friends and family members for free. The idea was that these developers were able to better aid Facebook users and develop tools and apps to make the site more appealing to its users. Of course, this opened doors for further privacy problems.
Currently, there’s no telling where things will go legally with the Facebook privacy and security issues, with more information coming to light each week, it could be a long and arduous process. All we can hope is that social media moguls, including others like Twitter and Instagram, learn from the mistakes of Facebook and put user’s privacy above the monetary gain of big business. In the end, it comes down to whether users will want to continue their patronage to these accounts. With so many different forms of social media it’s easier than ever before to delete a profile and move to another platform altogether.
So, are the days of Facebook reigning as social media King supreme over? That has yet to be determined, but what we do know is that they certainly have some making up to do to users. There are more than enough loyal Facebookers to keep the site up and running for years to come so long as it doesn’t run into further trouble and disturb what client base it retains. Only time will tell whether Zuckerberg and his team will dig themselves out of the hole they’ve created. One thing we do know is that Facebook will think twice before striking any type of hidden data campaign, political or otherwise.
Whether you’re pro Facebook or a tweeter for life, one thing everybody can agree on is to check your privacy and user agreements before you accept them. Never sign a contract without reading it, lesson learned.