Facebook Reveals More Secrets and Changes
July 6, 2018
Facebook hasn’t left the news headlines since its 2017 revelation that the company has been leaking user information to third party sites. The social media giant lost several high-profile users and celebrity accounts when it was determined that a company called Cambridge Analytica was collecting user data to strategize Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Other companies were also implicated in the social media scandal, which suggested that your private data may not be as private as you thought.
Since the news hit the internet, many other social media, email, and search engine companies have made changes to their privacy policies in an effort to avoid the same fate. Google, for example, recently found itself in hot water when it was determined that the company was allowing some third-party business owners the opportunity to browse through your private e-mails. Google promised that these were only companies which had been granted permission by users and that the emails being read were then used for app development and advertising purposes.
With so much turmoil in the online world, it comes as no surprise that Facebook is yet again at the bottom of a privacy scandal. It seems that the social media platform has boggled their block feature, which allowed users to block other users from viewing posts and pictures. The block feature is designed to provide an added layer of privacy to those who might not want to share certain types of data with others. For example, a man or woman who has a restraining order against an ex might use the block feature to be certain that private Facebook posts aren’t somehow being viewed by that individual.
A Facebook blog post, updated officially by Facebook this week, has confirmed that if you blocked someone from seeing your Facebook or messenger posts, they still may have done so between May 29 and June 5 of this year. Private posts were still kept private, but posts available to friends of friends or the public became visible, even to blocked parties. Similarly, individuals who had been blocked were suddenly able to message via the Facebook messenger tool, even if blocked. Approximately 83% of users affected by this glitch only had one person become unblocked, rather than everybody on the block-list.
Changing Their App Game
Adding to their time in the spotlight, Facebook is making some changes to their app lineup as well, including three apps they had purchased called TBH, Hello, and Moves. The company has already touched about user privacy by reporting that they will delete all user data within a 3-month period. Whether this user data will first be accessible to third-party websites is yet to be seen, but with the amount of trouble Facebook has seen over the recent months, it would be easy to assume that the information will be more secure than in the past.
User responses to the loss of these apps have been negative, with many Facebook users becoming upset at the prospect of no longer being able to use the aps. Facebook has issued an apology, advising users that the company feels it has been spreading itself too thin and is no longer able to keep up with the demands of running the applications.
One has to wonder whether Facebook was losing money on the applications or is short on money and staff following their recent court case. Otherwise, it would seem like such a large scale social media company would be able to hire an app management team to oversee these applications while other work continued as usual.
One of the apps, TBH, which stands for “to be honest” allowed users to express opinions online anonymously through polls and to issue anonymous compliments to friends. The app was downloaded and enjoyed by more than 5-million users over the period of a few weeks, making it seem like a highly popular and lucrative app for Facebook to be involved in. The TBH creators which had begun working with Facebook regarding their app have stayed on as part of another team to oversee additional projects and apps.
Facebook admits that in the future it’s looking less toward apps involving social media and teens and more toward AI and advancements in technology. The latest initiatives from Google and Amazon with their virtual assistants and voice recognition tools have made quite a name for the pair in the news, and unlike Facebook, Google and Amazon are seeing more positive news than negative news. Facebook may be on the right page trying to jump aboard the AI bandwagon.
This announcement gives Facebook users plenty to think about. Will Facebook be trying to compete with ecommerce giant Amazon and search engine giant Google in tech wars, or are they simply trying to stay afloat following the Cambridge Analytical debacle? Internet users will have to wait and see whether Facebook puts out its own version of Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant over the coming year. If they did, there’s certainly a potential for use there, as millions of users access Facebook every day, if not every hour. There’s even the potential for Facebook to overtake the popularity of Alexa and Google Assistant if it were packaged and marketed properly.
Whether Facebook will take the bait and climb aboard the AI express or stay behind to clean up their current mess is yet to be seen, but Facebook users can say goodbye to the latest three apps to be cut, and potentially more in the future.