Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is boasting that the social media platform is going to shift its focus to users’ privacy by encrypting messages. He says that the company won’t even be able to access these messages.
If you believe that the days of Facebook privacy scandals are over, however, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. This company has become known for privacy breaches and lackadaisical responses when users’ info ends up being used in unintended ways – again and again and again.
To trust that this ‘shift’ doesn’t come with all kinds of catches buried in the fine print or that it won’t go awry is as ridiculous as the notion that the Zuck gives a damn about privacy.
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Facebook Cares about Privacy? Oh Please!
In the diatribe Zuckerberg penned on the company’s newfound response to privacy concerns, he wrote:
“My focus for the last couple of years has been understanding and addressing the biggest challenges facing Facebook. This means taking positions on important issues concerning the future of the internet. In this note, I’ll outline our vision and principles around building a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform. There’s a lot to do here, and we’re committed to working openly and consulting with experts across society as we develop this.”
Just that first sentence is crazy. Facebook has been around for 15 years, and the company just got around to making privacy a top priority! Why was this not the focus right off the bat considering folks were sharing every detail of their private lives on the social media platform?
Although it was, and is still, ridiculous how people make every happening in their lives a Facebook moment, it says a lot about a company that is just now saying it’s going to protect users’ info better.
Dang Skippy, Zuck! Who’d Believe You Now?
In the post, Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company would have a tough go of it in trying to convince users and advertisers that it could improve.
I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing. But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.
Then the digital gangster, as the U.K. called Zuckerberg, goes into that bit about bringing the world together. However, the company has proven time and time again that money trumps privacy.
This diatribe about it not reading messages via encryption comes in the wake of one of the most damning examples of this company saying one thing and doing another. It’s been caught over its use of subscribers’ phone numbers used to secure their accounts. They are ending up in the wrong hands, including people the subscriber doesn’t know about.
For years Facebook claimed that adding a phone number for its two-factor authentication (2FA) process was only for security. However, the number can be found by unintended others, and there’s no setting the user can access to disable this 2FA quirk.
See thread! Using security to further weaken privacy is a lousy move—especially since phone numbers can be hijacked to weaken security. Putting people at risk. What say you @facebook? https://t.co/9qKtTodkRD
— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) March 2, 2019
In a relatively nonchalant statement about the 2FA settings, the company said:
“We appreciate the feedback we’ve received about these settings and will take it into account.”
Facebook’s Britches Are Getting Too Tight
A few years ago, Zuckerberg was really enamored with himself and Facebook and the effect the social media platform could have on the world. He touted that the social network could be “the new church.”
In his post over the company addressing message privacy, Zuckerberg fell back on that “connecting the world” jazz talk. He discusses how significant thought needs to go into how it creates platforms for private sharing.
Doing this means taking positions on some of the most important issues facing the future of the internet. As a society, we have an opportunity to set out where we stand, to decide how we value private communications, and who gets to decide how long and where data should be stored.
Think about it. A church doesn’t just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter.
Likening the social network to a church was off-putting, and Zuckerberg received plenty of backlashes.
Christian Today wrote:
So Facebook as a church and presumably someone like Zuckerberg as its pastor? What should we think about that?
No matter, in Zuckerberg’s eyes, the correlation was just fine. He’s all about bringing the world together, doused with putting ad revenue over user privacy, of course.
In that post, Zuckerberg wrote about a world where people’s info would “only be seen by who they want to see it and won’t all stick around forever.”
If we can help move the world in this direction, I will be proud of the difference we’ve made.
Hmmm. Facebook moving the world in any direction is scary as hell. Encrypting messages is to give one peace of mind is ludicrous.
With Each Privacy Reveal, Another Advertiser Could Walk Away
Investors and users seemed unfazed by the numerous and constant privacy screw-ups that have become nearly the norm at Facebook. Think Cambridge Analytica, which improperly gained access to personal data on millions of its users. The company even said as many 87 million users could have been compromised.
Facebook has even been accused of snooping on its own employees. It tracks users and ex-employees who represent threats to its staff or offices through a list it calls “BOLO,” short for “Be On the Lookout.”
Independent contractors hired to moderate posts to the platform are so unhinged by what they see they drink and have sex at work. They claim to be too afraid to voice their concerns.
There are few signs that users are closing their accounts over these debacles, but the tide is turning among advertisers. Their issues are the same as those of users – Facebook’s ill-approach to protecting users’ privacies.
One standout is David Heinemeier Hansson who is championing an effort for businesses to abandon Facebook. On a site called Signal V. Noise, the computer programmer wrote in December:
If Facebook’s endless privacy scandals have shown one thing, it’s that the company has far too much data on its users, and that they can’t be trusted not to sell, barter, or abuse that data whether for profit, growth, or negligence.
While individuals have long been rallying around #DeleteFacebook, there hasn’t been a comparable campaign for business. Enter: The Facebook-Free Business.
Not Ready To Shutdown FB
For those who just can’t give up Facebook, here’s some info to protect what you share.