Facebook has come under some intense scrutiny of late, with revelations that they’ve basically let anyone do anything they want with all of the Facebook user data they can get their hands on.
While most people want to think that their data belongs to them, in reality pretty much anyone engaged in social media has been handing their data over to megacorporate data hogs for years. And while the big revelation, driven by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, proves that Facebook doesn’t really care about protecting its customers’ data, the revelation really shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to anyone.
In response to the story, a new hashtag campaign arose: #DeleteFacebook. Entrepreneur Elon Musk made headlines when he announced that he would be deleting the Facebook pages for SpaceX and Tesla. According to Musk, Facebook “gives me the willies.” I can’t say that I blame him.
Facebook’s stock has been on shaky ground, and Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify to Congress this week. Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, seemed to have gone into hiding initially; now she’s saying that it’s “possible” there were other data breaches.
But what should really give people pause is the fact that Facebook has known that user data was being misused. They’ve known about the gaps in their systems for years, and done nothing. In other cases, they’ve been complicit, such as when the Obama campaign bought user data from Facebook.
The bottom line is, if you give your data to Facebook, you should assume that your data is out in the world. And that’s not just me saying that.
Last week, I made the decision to remove myself from Facebook – including my personal profile and the page for this website. For me, this goes way beyond mishandling of user data by the corporate oligarchs. For years, I tried to only put data on Facebook that I was comfortable making public (even though most things on my profile weren’t marked “public”), and I figured there was a good chance that there was some hanky-panky going on behind the scenes with my data.
I’ve used Facebook for over a decade, and for a lot of friends and family, it’s been the only way we’ve kept in touch. But when you take all of the misuse of user data, combined with the way they incessantly push page admins to buy advertising – I even caught them lying to try & push me to sponsor posts – I’d finally had enough.
Then, throw in how social media platforms like Facebook are being used – by Russia to meddle in elections, by the platform owners to silence people of certain political persuasions…social media isn’t about using the Internet to socialize anymore. It’s about different groups using social media platforms to manipulate you, and make you think how they want you to think.
Facebook may have started out as a great way for people to connect, but they’ve turned into a money-hungry megacorporation that doesn’t care about its user base in any meaningful way. Social media is a platform for people, but they’ve chosen money over people. And as long as you keep using, they will keep on abusing.
If you haven’t deleted your profile yet, maybe it’s time.