Facebook has become so deeply ingrained in people’s lives that it has now become the norm to give it access to personal data without much thought, as if this is but a small price to pay for Facebook’s “free” service. But nothing could be further from the truth.
These traceable and sellable data now give Facebook the power to manipulate what we do, how we feel, what we buy and what we believe. The consequences of giving Facebook this much power is only becoming apparent, with mounting lawsuits against their security breaches and lousy privacy settings.
Even CrossFit, the well-established branded fitness regimen, has decided to stop supporting Facebook and its associated services, putting all their activities on Facebook and Instagram to a halt starting May 22, 2019. This decision came in the wake of Facebook’s deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan user group, which was done without warning or explanation. The group has more than 1.65 million members who post testimonials regarding the efficiency of a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Although the group was later reinstated, Facebook’s action still shows how it acts in the interest of the food and beverage industry. You see, big advertisers on Facebook, like Coca-Cola, don’t want you to have access to this information, and Facebook is more than happy to ban anyone challenging the industrial food system. By doing this, it potentially contributes to the global chronic disease crisis.
Would you continue trusting a company that thinks too little of violating your rights to privacy?
1Facebook’s Primary ‘Product’ Is You
If you think Facebook’s product is the very platform that users interact with, you’re wrong. You are actually Facebook’s primary product. The site makes money off you by meticulously tracking your hobbies, habits and preferences through your “likes,” posts, comments, private messages, friends list, login locations and more. It sells these data, along with your personal information, to whomever wants access to them, potentially facilitating everything from targeted advertising to targeted fraud — this is its entire profit model.
Did you know that it can even access your computer or smartphone’s microphone without your knowledge? So if you’re suddenly receiving ads for products or services that you just spoke out loud about, don’t be surprised — chances are one or more apps linked to your microphone have been eavesdropping on you. These privacy intrusions can continue even after you’ve closed your Facebook account.
Companies can also collect information about the websites you’re visiting or the keywords you’re searching for outside of Facebook’s platform without your permission, and then sell these data to Facebook so it knows which ads to show you. This makes Facebook the most infamous advertising tool ever created, and to increase revenue, it has to continue spying on you.
During Facebook’s early days, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, assured in an interview that no user information would be sold or shared with anyone the user had not specifically given permission to. However, the site’s blatant disregard for its users’ privacy proves otherwise. In fact, Facebook has been repeatedly caught mishandling user data and lying about their data harvesting, resulting in multiple legal problems.
The origin of Facebook is also far from altruistic, even though it’s said to be created “to make the world more open and connected,” and “give people the power to build community.” A front-runner to Facebook was a site called FaceMash, which was created to rate photos of women — photos that were obtained and used without permission. Some of the women were even compared to farm animals! This speaks volumes about Zuckerberg’s disrespect for privacy. Facebook is basically founded on a misogynistic hate group and it should therefore ban itself.
2Facebook Faces Investigation for Its Lax Security and Privacy Practices
Facebook is currently facing a number of lawsuits regarding its controversial data-sharing practices and poor security measures. Back in 2010, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that Facebook was sharing user data with third-party software developers without the users’ consent, expressing concerns about the potential misuse of personal information, as Facebook does not track how third parties utilized them.
While Facebook agreed by consent order to “identify risk to personal privacy” and eliminate those risks, they did not actually pay attention to their security lapse. Had they done so, they would’ve been able to prevent the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the main focus of FTC’s first criminal probe. This issue involves Facebook’s deal with a British political consulting firm, allowing it access to around 87 million user data, which was used to influence public opinion in the U.S. presidential election.
Another criminal investigation into Facebook’s data sharing practice is underway. This time, it revolves around Facebook’s partnerships with tech companies and device makers, allowing them to override the users’ privacy settings and giving them broad access to its users’ information.
Amid federal criminal investigations, Zuckerberg announced the company’s latest plan to encrypt messages, so only the sender and the receiver will supposedly be able to decipher what they say. This is ironic, considering it was recently discovered that Facebook stored millions of user passwords in readable plaintext format in its internal platform, potentially compromising the security of millions of its users.
Zuckerberg has repeatedly demonstrated a complete lack of integrity when it comes to fulfilling his promises of privacy. In fact, in a 2010 talk given at the Crunchie awards, he stated that “privacy is no longer a social norm,” implying that using social media automatically strips you of the right to privacy, and that is why they do not respect it.
3Facebook Is a Monopoly
Facebook’s plan to integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp would turn it into a global super-monopoly. This merger has been criticized by tech experts, as it robs users of their ability to choose between messaging services, leaving them virtually no choice but to submit to Facebook’s invasive privacy settings. This also gives Facebook unprecedented data mining capabilities.
German antitrust regulator, Bundeskartellamt, is the first to prohibit Facebook’s unrestricted data mining, banning Facebook’s services in Germany if it integrates the three messaging platforms. If other countries follow suit, the merger would fall through, as it probably should.
One of the outspoken proponents of breaking up monopolies like Facebook, Google and Amazon is U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Her campaign to break up Facebook was censored by the site, taking down three of her ads with a message that said the ads went “against Facebook’s advertising policies.”
After Warren took to Twitter to comment how the censorship simply proves why her proposal was necessary, Facebook then reinstated her ads with the lame excuse that they were only removed because they included Facebook’s logo, which violates the site’s advertising policy.
I’ve Decided — I Am Leaving Facebook
At present, I have nearly 1.8 million Facebook followers, and I am grateful for the support. But a while back, I have expressed my concerns that perhaps I am doing more harm than good by being a part of Facebook, as I could be contributing to the invasive data mining, an idea that never sat well with me.
For those reasons, I decided that leaving the platform and going back to depending on email is the responsible way forward. If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter yet, I urge you, your family and your friends to sign up now. I polled my audience and they agreed with my decision to leave.