Facebook, Friend or Foe?

Facebook, Friend or Foe?

There is constant controversy surrounding Facebook, and politicians in Washington D.C. are failing to react in an effective manner.  It was brought to the public’s attention that there were privacy concerns regarding third-party apps using the Facebook platform.  Congress called Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook’s Founder and CEO, in for an interview.  According to the New York Times, “Senators warned that they are skeptical that the company can regulate itself and threatened to enact privacy rules and other regulations. They said they weren’t sure if they could trust a company that has repeatedly violated its privacy promises.”  That is one of Facebook's many problems in recent months and years.

    This comes on the heels of the realization that Facebook allowed allies of the Russian Government to influence U.S. elections in 2016, which continues to this day.  It appears that Congress does not want to look out for people using the Facebook platform which gives the company its own discretion.  They must use their oversight authority more effectively so that we can ensure that people are remaining safe while using social media.  Third party apps and election meddling are just the beginnings of an unraveling web at Facebook.

    According to Sarah Salinas with CNBC, “Facebook said Monday it is considering a Messenger feature that would incorporate a user's bank information, but denied it is asking for financial transaction data for advertising.”  It has also been revealed that Facebook is attempting to purchase private transaction data from the largest banks in the U.S. including Chase and Wells Fargo.  This raises even more concerns about Facebook’s usage of their users’ data.  If they are trying to make it easier to run a transaction via their website, the public needs to know where that information is being stored and who has access to it.  It is difficult for me to trust a company with sensitive financial information when they fail to secure the data they currently hold.  Politicians, must work together to ensure that Facebook is following federal laws in order to protect we the people. Otherwise, the company will be able to do whatever it wants without any thought of future consequences.

    In fact, just this week Facebook was caught violating the Apple App Store terms of use.  “Onavo Protect, a Facebook Inc. owned security app, scanned what apps users had installed and it then sent that data back to Facebook. The app violated Apple’s new rules of data collection, and the company has removed it from its App Store.” (Investopedia) For the users to truly understand how the app was using their data and delivering it to Facebook, they would have had to read the fine print, re-printed below.

“Onavo collects your mobile data traffic … Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.” (Investopedia)

No one using social media should have to hire a team of lawyers to inform them of their rights while on each platform.  Facebook needs to be more transparent regarding their terms of use for apps and their website.  This will ensure that people actually know what they are signing up for. There needs to be a way for the companies like Facebook to be more open about their intentions for apps and social media platforms, as it relates to the monetization of that data. Many people do not have the time to read the fine print on Facebook and other apps that they use to communicate.  That should be a priority for Facebook so that Congress does not feel the need to come in and regulate the company.

    Ultimately, holding Facebook accountable is the responsibility of the people using Facebook. If you don’t want information getting into the wrong hands, then think twice or even three times before liking a product or organization. It isn’t entirely Mark Zuckerburg’s fault for monetizing user data when we are giving him opportunities to access it freely.  It may be better to start implementing a paid subscription to Facebook so that the company can make a profit while not feeling the need to sell or purchase data about its users.  The world we live in revolves around data analytics and it is the end user’s responsibility to ensure that they hold companies accountable while using social media platforms.  Remaining vigilant is the only way to ensure that your data is secure in the 21st century and beyond, as it seems that we can’t rely on Congress for their assistance.  Though, ultimately who works for whom? Are we elected by them or are they elected by us?  

 

References

Sarah Salinas. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/06/facebook-messenger-could-soon-feature-your-    bank-information.html

Shobit, Seth. “Apple Bans Facebook App- Cites Illicit Data Sharing.”

    https://www.investopedia.com/news/apple-bans-facebook-appcites-illicit-data-sharing/

The New York Times.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/us/politics/mark-zuckerberg-testimony.html

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What Are (My) Options?

What Are (My) Options?