With majority of news channels and other media largely targeting and blaming Facebook for the entire scandal, it isn’t really unwise to talk about the other side of the story. Facebook continues to insist that all the data that was ‘inappropriately’ used to collected from the users with their explicit consent. Kogan’s app “thisisyourdigitallife” was launched as his personal project and Facebook users ‘willingly’ gave up their personal data to the app, not knowing what the consequences were going to be. Zuckerberg did argue that Cambridge Analytica was warned to delete all the inappropriately obtained user data and not to use it, but the blunder that they made was to think that this would be enough. Discipline needs to be enforced when it doesn’t exist, it cannot just be requested. Guess Facebook just had to learn this the hard way.
In the end, it does come down to the end user, who never saw it coming. The user would not have ever imagined that checking into a New York City cafe could actually be one of the billions of data points which could be used and manipulated to achieve what has now come to surface. The user never knows, that these notorious data-hungry companies like Cambridge Analytica are always out there, waiting to ‘get to them’. No matter how much you act shocked over it, or however harshly the media defames Facebook, the truth is, it all happened because we, the users, decided to ‘opt-in’. At Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings, Senator Graham pointed out to the CEO how the average consumer would never care to read the hefty document detailing Facebook’s Terms of Service. Zuckerberg, in response to the senator’s argument that “This ain’t working”, further stated that Facebook needs to come up with a better way of communicating those terms with the users, at different places, apart from the never opened ToS which contains almost nothing that falls within the limits of an average consumer’s field of view.
Further, blaming Facebook for the whole debacle is like firing an argument with no foundation. You posted your data on the platform. You set the privacy setting to ‘public’. You allowed third party apps to access all your as well as your friends’ data without giving it a second thought, and when the said third party turned out to be a notorious one and sold your data, you run after Facebook for allowing this to happen. It is really hard to point the finger at Facebook for this one.
It can be easily agreed upon that explicit warnings everywhere on Facebook that the posts and content you share can be used for purposes you do not have a single clue about will not work out. It will just hinder the user experience and probably lead to a decline in the already declining user base, as the #deletefacebook shot up in the trending section. The change, to avoid such a catastrophe in the future has to come from within. No governmental body or private institution can be trusted when it comes to the privacy of your own personal data. Only give it out when you know what you are doing, and where that data point you just created is headed. And it isn’t like all these social media platforms are doing these activities in a shady manner. It is all out in the open, and any user can adjust one’s privacy settings to restrict the audience for the content that the user posts.
Data Analytics is a booming technology right now, and developers like Kogan are going to keep innovating on new methods for creating an accurate online profile of internet users. It is up to us, to choose what we give out to them.
The opinions expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Copperpod IP, Carthaginian Ventures or any other related entity.