Kennedy: Unanswered questions in Facebook privacy issue

Kennedy: Unanswered questions in Facebook privacy issue

Amid a flurry of criticism pointed towards Facebook and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook introduced an option for users to download their personal data - the data that Facebook has been storing since you created your profile on the social media website. Two days of testimony didn't change his mind. "We do that for a number of reasons, including security and including measuring ads to make sure that the ad experiences are the most effective, which of course people can not doubt of (sic), but I want to make sure that I'm precise in my answer so let me follow up". (I couldn't figure out how to do the latter, and I write about technology for a living.) Zuckerberg believes he's giving users control, but he's giving them the illusion of control.

And some contend getting off Facebook will not solve the problem.

Testifying before Congress, Zuckerberg, speaking more like a 7-year-old who accidentally spray painted the family pet dog and not like a 33-year-old billionaire tech founder, said, "My mistake" and "I'm sorry" and "We need to do better". Many people construed it as confirmation of the fact that people who want privacy must expect to pay for it (going forward).

"I think maybe this is what this is all about: Your right to privacy", Durbin said.

The fallout around data privacy scandals has put Facebook in a tough spot. "They're not going to give that up easily".

"I still think that it's the best channel for reaching the majority of people, no matter what their age or what their demographic is", Heeg said. As many already suspected, Facebook collects data about non-users, too. Next thing you know you're seeing ads for restaurants and cat toys.

Zuckerberg's hearing came after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The first regulatory challenge to Facebook's practices for non-users may come next month when a new European Union law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), takes effect and requires notice and consent prior to data collection.




Still, the attention Congress brought to the issue may be having an impact.

Elsewhere, a prominent Democratic digital ad consultant notes that Facebook hasn't reached out directly to communicate any of the changes it's making - whether by phone, email or Facebook - despite the fact he spent more than $1 million on Facebook ads a year ago. "You know how many points of data that Facebook has on the average non-Facebook-user?" Facebook brags to advertisers that it can provide "cross device" targeting, as it is called.

In Ogg's mind, the recent news about Facebook presents agents with an opportunity to start looking at other social media platforms.

By clicking the "Ads" tab, users can scroll down to see a list of "advertisers who uploaded a contact list with your info", which could include a phone number, full name and email address. Any violations of the 2011 agreement could subject Facebook to fines of $41,484 per violation per user per day.

We have a responsibility to protect your information.

Subscription companies were once an anomaly on the internet, where the prevailing wisdom was that information trended toward free.

Cambridge Analytica is accused of using a quiz app to ask for data in this manner, before turning around and using the data it harvested for other purposes. Similar ads were before the country's presidential election.

The hearings generated much heat but little light, as was predicted by Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina and one of the keenest observers of Facebook and our evolving digital landscape.

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