Following the revelations in the past week that political data analysis outfit Cambridge Analytica somehow managed to harvest the private data of more than 50 million Facebook users, and without the users being alerted, there have been increasing calls for Facebook users to leave Facebook for more secure climes.
That Cambridge Analytica was involved with the 2016 Trump campaign, that Cambridge Analytica was founded by, among others, Stephen Bannon, and that they claim to have been able to use the 50million+ Facebook users’ data to “develop methods that it claimed could identify the personalities of individual American voters and influence their behavior”, according to New York Times, has all been fodder for the snowballing calls for people to abandon Facebook.
Notable high-profile people in tech calling for people to just delete Facebook include WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, and People for Internet Responsibility (PFIR) founder and tech security commentator Lauren Weinstein.
Said Acton in a tweet, “It is time. #deletefacebook”
Weinstein had quite a bit more to say about it than that. In a post on his personal blog entitled Seriously, It’s Time to Ditch Facebook and Give Google+ a Try”, Weinstein makes a compelling case not only to give Facebook the boot, but to give Google+, also known as G+, another chance (or a try, if you haven’t already used it).
please don’t keep playing along with Facebook’s sick ecosystem – Lauren Weinstein
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Says Weinstein, “I wouldn’t use G+ (or other Google services) if I weren’t satisfied with the ways that they handle my data. Having consulted to Google, I have a pretty decent understanding of how this works, and I know many members of their world-class privacy team personally. If only most firms gave their customers the kinds of control over their data that Google does,” adding that “But whether or not you decide to try Google+, please don’t keep playing along with Facebook’s sick ecosystem. Facebook has been treating its users like suckers since day one, and there’s damned little to suggest that they’re moving in other than an increasingly awful trajectory.”
Facebook has claimed that because there was no data breach, they are not to blame.
How is it that Cambridge Analytica came to have all of that data if there was no breach?
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The users gave it up to them – but without knowing they were giving it up. In fact, that is one of the main charges leveled against both Facebook and CA in this scandal – that users weren’t informed that they were giving up their data for scrutinizing by CA.
How did that happen? You know all of those insidious quizzes that are all over Facebook? You know the ones: What does your personality say about you? What is your superhero name? Who is your posse on Facebook? Etc. etc… Yes, those quizzes are responsible for harvesting your personal data.
Surely you had to know that those quizzes were a payday for the companies harvesting your data, there is nothing – let us repeat that, nothing – on Facebook that is not created to productize you, the user.
In fact, according to the NYT, “The data was obtained in 2014, when Cambridge Analytica, through an outside researcher, paid users small sums to take a personality quiz and download an app, which would scrape some private information from their profiles and from those of their friends — activity that Facebook permitted at the time.”
The thing is, it’s exceedingly unlikely that enough users will abandon Facebook to cause anything other than a ripple; Facebook has made itself far too central and pivotal. As long as many millions of individuals continue to use Facebook, so will the businesses that want their dollars, and so we’ll be right back where we started.
Facebook is the Stockholm Syndrome object of the Internet.
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