Living With Facebook When It Can't Be Trusted

It keeps getting worse for Facebook. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has confirmed that the company's privacy practices are being investigated by the federal government. Shares of the company, which had been as high as $193+ on February 1st, were already reeling as the company became engulfed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Today, shares of Facebook are down significantly more. 


Facebook collects a ton of information about you, and it's all spelled out (sort of) in that terms and conditions you agreed to (almost certainly) without reading, back when you signed up for Facebook. There's plenty you can opt out of, but seemingly everything you do on Facebook gets filed away in their systems. Even the things you start to type and then delete... they keep and analyze that! 

In the Cambridge Analytica scandal, just 270,000 people filled out a quiz. But because it's a social media platform, that quiz also gathered info on people's friends -- ballooning the total number of users affected to about 50 million. It was not a data breach; it was something Facebook allowed to happen, because they didn't take good care of its users data.

Here's the problem for me, and maybe most of us: We're mad at Facebook for letting this happen, and we'd love to punish them for letting this happen. Thus, the #DeleteFacebook movement. But how many of us will actually do that? I'm not much of a Facebook user, but I'd be hesitant to simply close my account and never see it again. Facebook is still a great way to see what friends are up to, and to stay in touch with people I might normally lose contact with. For others, Facebook is a daily part of their lives. 

Facebook is so ingrained in our daily interactions that most of us would have trouble deleting our accounts even if we wanted to. Most of us won't bother trying to live life without the social media behemoth. More likely, we will try much harder to keep Facebook from invading our privacy. For example, we might take away the company's ability to access our phone records. Or we'll dig into our privacy settings and take away the Candy Crush app's ability to learn everything about us. 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg likes to talk about how Facebook can be used as a force for good. And the company is always tinkering with its algorithms to give you a "better" experience. But the reality is that Facebook has become too big to manage effectively. Facebook itself has become the problem they are trying to solve. No easy task, when the company has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. When the more they know, the easier it will be for them to profit off their users.

So we'll do what we can. In addition to taking control of our online privacy as best we can, we can share less and log off Facebook more, as this article suggests. More helpful info is here



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