Facebook revisited or It is YOUR personal information; you are allowing it to be processed…

News and information from the Advent IM team.

So much has been written or compiled in the last few days about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. Commentators in all fields have got a contribution; be that data privacy and protection professionals, security professionals, political commentators or any combination thereof. Whilst we don’t want to add to the morass of information in what is an increasingly convoluted and complex chain of events, we did think it might be an ideal time to take five minutes to think about the absolute failure to grasp what Facebook really is…

Facebook is a data broker. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is a useful and life enhancing tool for millions of people. But it, and the organisations it does business with, want to know everything about you. I know profiling is not new, or indeed unique to Facebook, but this level of voluntary transparency on behalf of users, has been utterly mastered and perfected by Facebook.  Its entire existence is based up on your acquiescence to this business model and every app that it supports most be ‘socially enabled’…So when people say, if the product is free, then you are the product, then it does actually apply to Facebook, however much you like the platform. In fact, Facebook is pretty much the poster child for this model. So when Mark Zuckerberg says that he apologises because Facebook had a duty to protect the personal data of users, what he doesn’t say is he has a duty to protect the privacy of that data. A subtle but important difference, which I hope Facebook users will notice. What has happened with the personal data of Facebook users used by Cambridge Analytica, is not a data breach, it is a betrayal of trust which underlines an attitude we see often in businesses who think our personal information is theirs to do with as they please, as soon as they have it. In other words, they think that they own it. They don’t. And now the genie out of the bottle and it’s blowing raspberries at our sense of outrage and anger at the sinister manipulation of our data. We can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend we were unaware that this was always a possibility, having been seduced by the free services.

Perhaps this will be a wakeup call for users of platforms that require invasive permissions. Perhaps the upcoming GDPR will underline to the public their rights to their own privacy and their absolute sovereignty over it and how it may be used, not to mention that they can withdraw that permission any time they choose…

 

 

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