He takes responsibility for “a breach of trust between Facebook and the people (Facebook users) who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”.
He also says “I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community”. My question is this: How is Facebook going to protect us and why should we trust Facebook to protect us? What are they going to protect us from?
OK fine. It’s not a good thing to let outside 3rd party companies use the data that Facebook has collected about all of us Facebook
users. That data includes the information we have entered and uploaded into our Facebook accounts as well as our actions while we are on Facebook, like what we click on and what we click “Like” on and what we share and what we comment on.
All of that gives an idea about who you are and what you like. Just as if you had filled out a long questioneer. Are you male or female. How old are you. What are your leanings in terms of politics, shopping, family, etc. Are you conservative or liberal. Are you rich or poor. What kind of things are you interested in. What kind of things do you buy. What are your hobbies. Facebook’s system gathers all of this information and forms it’s own profile about each and every person in their system. All 2 billion!
The reason they do this is so they can offer targeted advertising capability to their advertisers. Do you sell golf lessons? You can show your ads only to people interested in learning golf. That’s very effective, efficient, and powerful. It’s great.
But Facebook is acting like they can be trusted with our data (because they have it all) but third parties cannot be trusted. Trusted to do (or not do) what?
Just what did Cambridge Analytica do with our data? Certainly nothing that Facebook can’t do. Facebook has already been using the data. It’s just the idea that Facebook users did not agree to let their data be used by Cambridge Analytica. It’s not good but I don’t think most of us really care about our likes and interests being in the hands of Cambridge Analytica.
The data is not used individually, it’s used collectively. As an individual it shouldn’t matter so much. As a group it would matter more. If you’re a democrat and Facebook data was used to persuade you, along with thousands more, that the election was next week instead of this week, that would be bad. But the fact that Cambridge Analytica knows that I like technology doesn’t bother me. Why should it?
I think the more serious problem with Facebook is that they can control what people see while they are on Facebook. You might think, well that makes sense, it’s their system and people are using it for free. Noone’s forcing people to use it.
But people do use it. And they use it to find news about what’s going on in the world. Facebook could, if they wanted to, filter the news stories to favor any opinion. Of course any TV news channel or radio station can do the same. And some of them do. Think MSNBC vs FOX News. But people know that. They don’t know if Facebook is favoring one side or another. In fact most people probably think Facebook doesn’t do that at all. The problem is, they DO HAVE the power to do that. And if they do that, while people think they’re not, that’s propoganda.
The most interesting thing about this is that Facebook is acting like it’s really bad if another company has your data. But Facebook has your data already. And they can use it however they want. Hopefully they’ll be nice.