OPINION: Facebook messed up

Charlie Needles

When Facebook fails to keep their collected data private social media users worldwide are rightfully aggravated. Data being leaked to anyone without their permission is not dangerous. But what’s really dangerous is data manipulation.

Facebook was wrong to have dispersed information to an outside company without permission. The site’s main revenue is ad sales and they rely on collected data to market access to certain demographics. Every time an ad is liked, a page is followed, or a video is clicked on Facebook learns more about what you and others in your demographic want to consume or will react to. This isn’t dangerous. It’s annoying, to be fair, but having a corporation collect information about you as a consumer is the nature of the internet today. There is no danger in a corporation building this consumer portfolio about you. This information is secure and, like other corporations that collect data this way, Facebook is not in the business of corrupting that data or manipulating it in any way.

Facebook’s wrongdoing was not in the collection of the data, but in divulging that information to an outside company without their users’ permission. When you make an account on Facebook, you agree to their privacy practices. What Facebook did was out of line with their own practices. This transaction wouldn’t have even made the news if Facebook had updated their terms of agreement before they released the data to an external corporation.

There is no need to worry, though. The data was used to hyper target political campaign ads. This happens all the time for ads of many kinds. Whether political or not, the days of hyper segmentation mean that your every action on social media is being used to build a consumer portfolio to target you and others with similar activity with ads and articles that are tailored to your interests. Even the hashtags you use can be collect as data about you.

Your data is being exploited to make you a more active consumer. This is the norm of the internet now. The worst that is going to happen is you’ll get super annoyed by advertisements and stop clicking on anything for a while.

A real security threat is when the data is hacked into and changed. Facebook is not changing your data because they wouldn’t be able to accurately market you as a consumer. As long as it’s in their best interest to keep your data in tact, you are safe from the threat of data distortion.

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