More egg on the Facebook
The bad news for Facebook started with revelations that the Russians had placed political ads with the social media giant during the 2016 presidential campaign. More recently, a developer was discovered to have sold user data, mined by an app, to Cambridge Analytica – again, intended to sway the elections. By this time it was so bad at Facebook that CEO Mark Zuckerberg granted a rare interview to CNN Money.
Zuckerberg: “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry that this happened. We have a basic responsibility to protect people’s data – and if we can’t do that then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.”
Then on Sunday, the company admitted it had been tracking texts and calls on Android devices that had Facebook installed. Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says there’s likely more admissions to come.
“People should expect privacy protections,” Rotenberg emphasizes. “I don’t think they can be expected to know every time a high-tech firm collects and uses their data for some unanticipated purpose.”
Facebook tried to limit the damage by pointing out that users had to “opt-in” to the information sharing. Rotenberg points out that the “opt-in” explanation was hidden in the long and legal licensing agreement.
“Much of this is completely cloaked,” he continues. “I don’t think we can all afford to become such tremendous experts that we’re cryptographers to protect our privacy. I think that’s unreasonable.”
The Federal Trade Commission has opened up an investigation into the allegations at Facebook – and a bipartisan group of 37 state attorneys general has issued a letter demanding answers from Zuckerberg about the company’s privacy protections. All of which means there may be some accountability down the road for Facebook.
The social media giant, however, isn’t the only one under scrutiny. OneNewsNow reported yesterday that privacy advocates also have some concerns about the data that Google is handing over to law enforcement authorities.