Privacy ? What Facebook Privacy ??
Oh boy oh boy... we can always count on Facebook to remind us of how scary the internet can be.. and Facebook Atlas is no exception. So lets start with this question. If you knew that a friend of yours was secretly reading your email so that they could ummmm "help" give you better advice would you let them ???? While I would never guess that I'd get a whopping 100% of people to say yes to this, I'd say it's pretty reasonable to think that I'd be okay in assuming that better than 90% of people would say they wouldn't be okay with this practice.
Additionally, as you read this post, I will preface that what I've written is not simply a tirade or one sided opinion. This is about their history, their unethical practices, violation of user trust and continuation of repeated acts that continue to nullify their claims that they do indeed care about privacy for users that utilize their network. So with that said, I get it that "millions" of people are on Facebook, but if you've been reading my posts for any amount of time you know the glaring concerns that I have regarding the social media behemoth. I've focused my issues solely around how they value privacy starting with this video from Youtuber Matthias.
Aside from the humor which I love by the way, the issues are real with Facebook. It's only a matter of time before this gets really bad, like "scary" bad.. wish Facebook would have never been invented bad, but so far we're not there yet. However, incrementally if you've paid attention to the history of unconscionable mistakes they've made disregarding the trust of it's fan base, one can reasonably assume that the worst is yet to come.. whatever that may be. However, there's always that off chance that FB will start to listen, respect your privacy and restore social confidence, but maybe that's just wishful thinking.. only time will tell.
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) - The Infamous Transcript
Nevertheless, lets start with Zuckerberg's early days in Facebook. While there's no doubt that we're all supposed to get wiser with age, this was just the beginning of HUGE concerns regarding how important privacy was to Facebook and it's founder. In a leaked transcript from 2003, Mark was found mocking the very users that helped him to propel FB into the spotlight. The transcript reads:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb fucks.
While no one verified the authenticity of this, Facebook did not deny it either. Even though we continue to hear about how "important" privacy is to Facebook, their actions consistently paint a different picture that doesn't align well with what they state openly to the public when they've been addressed on the topic of Facebook privacy.
Facebook Virtual Suicides In The Millions
It's no secret that many people left and right have been shutting their Facebook profiles down. Gizmodo did the same in 2010. They wrote an article about the top 10 reasons why you should quit Facebook. The article shared some very insightful information that I will summarize by headline, but I will provide the complete article after the bullet points are made. Among their reasons are the following:
The FB TOS is completely one sided
Mark Zuckerberg has a history of "unethical" behavior
FB has declared war on privacy
FB is pulling the bait and switch on it's users
FB is a bully
Your "private data" is being shared
Facebook shouldn't be trusted
Facebook makes it VERY hard to "completely" delete your account
FB does not support the open web
The Facebook application isn't that good
The complete article can be found here: Gizmodo Quit Facebook Article
The article is a good read so even though I've only highlighted points, there's a lot more to be said that Gizmodo elaborates on more in depth.
Interestingly enough, Facebook reportedly lost 9 million active users in the United States and another 2 million in Britain over privacy concerns in 2013. These were numbers that came from an article written by the Dailymail. The article can be found here: FB Users Committing Virtual Identity Suicide. Another bit of information worth noting is that while internet privacy (also known as online privacy) is a broad term, this is paramount to many people because there is an expectation that the forums, social media sites and other mediums that we interact with where we do share data will keep our data safe and protected and serve as a buffer from those that seek to either profit or engage in practices that may be harmful, damaging or unethical to the individual. When these things do not happen, you can reasonable suspect that there will be feelings of discontentment, anger and backlash.. all things that have been experienced by Facebook from multiple destinations online that utilize their network and from those that do not.
Facebook Undercover Tactics
Remember Deepface ? This was another creepy feature that rolled out in 2014 from Facebook that was their experimentation with facial recognition software. However, it was actually run on their website shortly after Facebook bought Face.com and implemented without user consent or knowledge which rightfully so creeped out a lot of people.
Facebook owns the largest photo database of any agency in the world. So with this new feature that FB quietly rolled out but now is stating its an "opt-in" feature which it really isn't allowed them to recognize faces with great accuracy, almost as effective as any person could simply by uploading a photo. You can't disable the facial recognition.. you can only disable who sees the auto tags. Nevertheless, what are the implications for this ?
Well consider someone that isn't your friend on FB. Someone takes your photo, uploads your photo to Facebook and is able to collect details and other information about you using their platform ? Privacy advocates have made efforts to force FB to delete it's FRS software. It is unclear just how successful those efforts have been.
In more egregious mistakes, who can forget the massive psychological study, dubbed "emotionally manipulative" that was done on over 700,000 Facebook users without their knowledge subjected to highly positive and negative elements through their accounts, photos, and user feeds they viewed that intentionally affected their moods. The real kicker even though people were rightfully "ticked off" is that what Facebook did was not in violation of their TOS. Again I will reiterate as Matthias did in the video referenced earlier in this post.. it is time to say goodbye to Facebook if you haven't already. If this manipulation is within acceptable bounds in their terms of service, I'd say it's fair to assume that they could probably get away with a lot more in the future. We wouldn't accept this from a friend, we wouldn't accept this from an employer and it certainly shouldn't be acceptable from a "social network", of which we are not being forced to use.
Facebook Atlas Ad Platform
Facebook has returned to the spotlight with their newest acquisition from Microsoft rebuilding it to fit their platform. Facebook Atlas is yet another amplification of how FB doesn't value your privacy for the individual.
Have you asked to be followed around the web ?
Have you asked to have ads tailored to you or your preferences ?
Have you asked to be tracked online ?
Would any of this be okay to you without your permission ?
Chances are pretty good that you haven't asked to have any of these things done to you or for you and that you wouldn't be okay with it either. It doesn't matter how anyone tries to coat this one with sugar and sweet goodies... anything related to Facebook that "follows" you around and tracks what you do is bad news. This is all primed to make the social platform even more money to make even more poor decisions with the power at it's disposal and worse yet, will allow Facebook to still impact you on other websites even if you don't use their website.. all of which can and will be done over any mobile device. As the gentleman in the video states so pointedly:
We know who you are...
We know where you live..
We know what you do.
This is what Facebook is becoming.. this is not okay and this is not privacy.
Ello has become the anti Facebook alternative. My Ello Review can be found in this post: Ello Review. For those of you that are looking for an alternative to Facebook, I would encourage you to read the Ello manifesto, which again can be found in my post on the new social media platform and consider whether Ello is the right alternative for you.
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