Time to Re-evaluate: Facebook and data privacy
The recent revelations of millions of Facebook users data being shared without permission. Has me asking the question: has Facebook forgotten what the platform is for? Without each individual user creating a Facebook profile, frankly Facebook doesn’t have a business. Although the use of social media such as Facebook, and many other platforms is addictive, I think it is timely to remind ourselves that there was life before Facebook.
Facebook was founded only in 2004. Now for young people born after that date, that is not their life experience, however for those of us that lived fulfilling lives pre 2004 and therefore pre Facebook I believe we need to remember this and share this fact with young people born from 2004. Besides, does anyone remember MySpace?
I think it is time, we as consumers actively provide feedback, including acting with your feet (or click of the button deactivating and closing accounts) and re-evaluate the social media platforms we use. To assess if they are giving us what we want? Most importantly, we as individuals need to demand that data privacy is important and needs to be upheld. We all have rights over our own personal data. We need to remind large organisations such as Facebook, Apple and LinkedIn and more that without their users they don’t have a business. Therefore each individual user is more influential and important than what they lead us to believe.
Last week, I was motivated to deactivate my Facebook profile account. I have been considering this for sometime mainly due to:
- the impact it has on my productivity and
- the ‘stalking’ nature of social media platforms.
It is not lost on me that we have access to a great deal of information about people, even those we don’t speak to in person anymore, from their posts. Now I understand that this is a personal choice what an individual decides to share, which is not the focus here, but frankly I don’t want to know so much of everyone I’m connected with. Now, I too have shared much on my own profile and this was a contributing factor to taking a break from it all as well.
The deciding factor however, was after the many data privacy issues hitting the media regularly about Facebook; most recently data being shared without permission. Having been in small business for over 10 years, this is privacy 101! Frankly, no excuse. If anything, companies like Facebook should be the most vigilant in respect of the large number of users they have.
Here is a video if you have missed the #deletefacebook trends in the media:
This attitude of a large company, reminds me of the high profile McDonald’s defamation case versus individuals that expressed their concern for McDonald’s providing low quality food and advertising gimmicks aimed at children (amongst other claims). Up until that point McDonald’s had had a ‘bullying’ style strategy to ‘shut up’ those that criticised them by suing them. However, this case lasted for almost 10 years and was a complete public relations nightmare and became a situation that McDonalds couldn’t control using these tactics. Personally, this resonated with me and I have actively boycotted McDonalds since 1996. The story although was in London, resonated with many people across the globe. I think I have set foot in a McDonalds restaurant less than 5 times in my life.
Therefore large organisations need to value their clients and learn to listen and communicate in a far more respectful way.
Unfortunately I think many are not aware of current privacy laws and how personal data is handled however we as individuals need to value these rights and expect and remind large organisations to uphold them. Here are examples from the United States (US) and Australia (I include the latter because that is where I reside):
The US does not have a single, united law however a prominent law is:
Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. §§41-58) (FTC Act) is a federal
consumer protection law that prohibits unfair or deceptive practices
and has been applied to offline and online privacy and data security
policies. The FTC has brought many enforcement actions against companies
failing to comply with posted privacy policies and for the unauthorised
disclosure of personal data. The FTC is also the primary enforcer of
the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) (15 U.S.C.
§§6501-6506), which applies to the online collection of information from
children, and the Self-Regulatory Principles for Behavioural
Advertising. Read more here
The Privacy Act for Canada is provided here from the Government of Canada:
- “The purpose of this Act is to extend the present laws of Canada that protect the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by a government institution and that provide individuals with a right of access to that information”.
In Australia the privacy act:
- The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) regulates the way individuals’ personal information is handled.
As an individual, the Privacy Act gives you greater control over the way that your personal information is handled. The Privacy Act allows
- know why your personal information is being collected, how it will be used and who it will be disclosed to
- have the option of not identifying yourself, or of using a pseudonym in certain circumstances
- ask for access to your personal information (including your health information)
- stop receiving unwanted direct marketing
- ask for your personal information that is incorrect to be corrected
- make a complaint about an entity covered by the Privacy Read more here
We truly can believe in the ‘power of the people’. If we all unite and demand our privacy rights be upheld these large organisations will not have a business because we, their users, have stopped using their services.
Where are they now?
Let’s be reminded that the following large organisations or companies are no longer and is a sobering point:
- MSN Messenger,
- General Motors,
- Blockbuster Video,
- Pan Am (Pan American Airlines) and
- Arthur Andersen to name a few
Purpose of Facebook
Originally Facebook was created to profile staff and students at Harvard University. I know I began on Facebook for a high school reunion, to reconnect with those I used to go to school and university with. Plus family and friends in all parts of the world. Reference for Facebook’s history is here.
Unfortunately, now the algorhythm of the site has changed so much it is increasingly difficult to see your facebook friends with the presence of so many businesses and organisations having flooded the network.
Therefore, has Facebook lost site of its original purpose? I understand it is a commercial enterprise now, different from its origins, and uses advertising revenue to make a profit and keep the platform free. However, because it remains free does that mean, we as users lose our rights to the control of our own data? I think not.
You have choice
Despite what some large organisations and companies may want us to think, we as individuals currently still have choice over how our data is used. We have a right to demand for these to be upheld. Let’s value these rights and exercise our ‘power of the people’ united together.
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Have you Re-evaluated Facebook or other social media platforms and large organisations and how they treat Your Data Privacy? Please share your comments here: