Ok, just a heads up for today’s post it may get a bit political which sadly means I am probably alienating about 50% of your audience. Not normally a good idea for a business to do.
Delete Facebook! That is the hysteria that is going on this last week (Mar 18-24) you may have heard or seen the whole #deleteFacebook hashtag more than once in your prosing of the internet this week. Why has everyone got their panties in a bunch? This is because it came out that a Company called Cambridge Analytica had acquired data points from people who took a quiz.
Why Delete Facebook?
Cambridge Analytica is a research firm that compiles data points to build profiles about people. These profile compilations help companies and political groups to know the best way to market to you and your demographic.
Cambridge Analytica had created an app that was essentially a quiz. To gain access to this quiz the user has to grant access to their profile. This way they could see who the user’s friends are. Then looking at the friend’s profiles and using the answers given they could they could come up with a witty answer to what color balloon you should be caring, or whatever the answer was supposed to be.
It came out that Cambridge Analytica was used by the Trump campaign (Que Sinister Music) to get better-targeted ads. This is the idea of marketing. You find out as much as you can about your potential customers so you can produce the most effective ads.
Since this company is being tied to the Trump campaign, people started investigating and with a little digging they are now screaming about how Facebook basically helped Trump win. So people are now mad at Facebook, again, about the election.
So now people are all sorts of mad and the hashtag #DeleteFacebook is all over the place. People are closing their accounts and developers are removing Facebook from their sites in protest.
Did Facebook allow it?
Facebook is a publicly traded company. As the primary objective of any business is to produce a profit through the trade of product for the money. The product in question is data about you and me and the 5 Billion other users that are registered on the platform.
This data has been collected and cataloged about you since you first signed up for a profile. With every thumb up you gave, you helped Facebook understand what you like and don’t like. Anytime you go to a website with a Facebook pixel on it you help Facebook understand more granularity who you are, what your interests are.
When someone comes by and needs to have access to this data. Facebook is able to provide it. The details of the profiles are dependent on the security and privacy settings set by each user.
Now people are wanting to say the Cambridge Analytica was evil for exploiting a flaw in the API. I’m really not seeing that. It is the users who allow the permissions. While Cambridge Analytica is only allowed access to the data given and with the permission to see your friends they are granted access to your friend’s list and can see what you can see. That is not a flaw. It is how the API was designed.
There is no such thing as a free lunch
People will be people. As a whole we are lazy. We take the path of least resistance much like water and electricity. Nobody looks at the Terms of Service. Most folks don’t take the time to look at the permissions for a quiz. They want to get to the good stuff and so they click ok and carry on.
Many if not the vast majority will never think of the permissions they allow until something like Cambridge Analytica happens. Then they panic and want answers as to how this could happen. The answer is they allowed this to happen. No one else, it is their own fault for not reading first.
The Bold print giveth, while the fine print taketh away
So I do find it funny when jumping up and down and demand answers as to how they could have allowed this. The answer is they allowed this because they didn’t read. There is nothing wrong with that. That is the product of free will. You don’t have to read if you don’t want to. I often don’t read the ToS. But I also don’t play quizzes that is because this isn’t the first time.
This isn’t the first time?
People love quizzes. Back in 2016, there was a big news story that hackers were using quizzes to steal your information. There was a big outrage about this back then. The reason this one has more noise is because of who the leak is tied to.
Yet it goes to show what I was saying. People don’t read them as a whole. Because they don’t care about the data they give out. You get people who will sound the alarm and for good reason. Yet people are not going to change their ways will the pain of not paying attention is too great.
SO wait for about 2 years and Facebook will be in hot water once more for sharing data that people already know is being shared. Till then just pay attention to your permissions.
How do I control my Data?
Ok, so you want to take a proactive and responsible approach to using Facebook. Great! There is nothing wrong with that. That is a good thing to do. The first and best thing to do is to review the apps you have granted access to your profile.
- On Facebook on your Desktop browser click on the triangle on the far right-hand side of the blue bar.
- Click Settings at the bottom of the menu
- On the left-hand column, you will see Apps. Click Apps.
- You will see a few apps that have access to your profile. But you want to click See All.
- Here are all the apps you have allowed access to your profile. Don’t be scared of the number but yes you did allow all of these apps access to you and your friends. So you now have a choice. Remove or edit.
- If you want to remove just mouse over the app you want to remove and click the X. But know that if you are still using that app on your phone or through a website you will probably be losing a lot of functionality. The website will probably ask for you to reinstall it.
- If you want to edit the app’s permissions. Click on the Pencil.
- Here you can change who sees the posts.
- You get to view and change what the app has access to.
- You commonly have Your Public Profile
- Your Friends Profile
- and your Email address
- but it may ask for Birthday, current city, and other details that you can uncheck
- You commonly have Your Public Profile
Once finished you can go back to your news feed and rest assured that you are not giving any extra information you are not comfortable giving out. Just pay attention to what your permissions are when you install. Or you can leave Facebook altogether and that is good because that means fewer people are advertising. So the ad rates will fall. Which is a win, for those of us who run a Facebook ad or two.
So why am I not getting excited about this data leak? Because the one I know how Facebook uses the data. But also the media as a whole wouldn’t have cared about this problem if Hillary Clinton had won the election. If Hillary had used this information the Trump side would be feigning all the same outrage over the use of the same data. So it is really not that big of a deal. Use this knowledge and know that Facebook isn’t taken advantage of anyone. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Do you agree? Where am I wrong? Let’s have a good discussion about Facebook and how they use their data.
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