Data collection is becoming easier for the companies because of social networking sites. People are using social sites to connect however they do not know that their private data is being used by companies for making money and they are unknowingly giving away their personal information which arise many privacy concerns. Facebook is a social networking site that allows user to interact with their friends and family even if they are far from them. Connecting with your long-distance friends and family has never been easy without Facebook. However, along with these connections Facebook comes with some potential dangers to your private data. While registering, Facebook requires the user to enter data such as name, email address, date of birth, gender, phone number and occupation. This data can be sold to various companies in the market which can make them millions of dollars. The information you provide is verified and Facebook takes the future members word for it and allows them to gain access to the website as long as their email has not already been taken. While registering the user is given option to read the “Terms and Regulations” but they can just mark the check box for it and skip the whole process of reading it. Inside these “terms” Facebook states “We do our best to keep Facebook safe, but we cannot guarantee it”.
By posting the Terms and Data Use Policy, Facebook is taking absolutely no legal responsibility for what happens on its website. Not only your personal data but your news feed data, your likings, your comments on posts, your live location is all tracked by companies. Every bit of the gathered data is used by marketing company to provide the user with appropriate adverts. Every day you give away so much of your data willingly. Examples include; the searches you make on Google, the places you check into on Facebook and the posts you share on Twitter (unless your profile is private and not public). Such sites have privacy policies in place that clarify how this information is being used–usually to enhance the products and services or to show you specific ads and consumers are expected to agree to this collection of data if they want to use it. And, once you sign up for Facebook, you’re enabling the giant social networks to see everything you’re doing on their network. Add this data to the information your surfing habits have already gathered, and the big internet companies know much more about you than you think. Such providers ‘ privacy policies are easily accessible, but they are usually written in broad terms and provide little guidelines, allowing them more leeway on how to manage the information they have gathered on you. Between 2015 and 2018, Facebook encouraged users to sign up for two-factor authentication (2FA), including texting a code to your phone number. What Facebook didn’t tell you is that the phone number was also being handed over to advertisers, according to the DOJ. As recently as November, 2018, Facebook was still asking for your phone number for 2FA without disclosing that it was also providing it to advertisers. Apart from phone numbers and email addresses facebook also collects “users’ bios, birthdays, family and relationships, websites, status updates, photos, videos, links, notes, hometowns, current cities, education histories, work histories, activities, interests, ‘likes,’ app activity, and status of being online.”( content desktop).
Facebook collects user’s data in many ways. Commenting on someone’s posts, playing games lie Farmville, and “like” button that may be the biggest source of information collector. As we “like” our friend’s posts we are participating in the image and reputation management by giving information to facebook networks on what interests and engages us. If the user is liking posts on climate change, global warming, heathcare and education then facebook has a pretty strong idea of what kind of causes we will support and could use that data to judge our voted candidates. In 2018 Facebook and Cambridge analytica was accused of using data of more than 50 million users in the favor of Trump in the US elections. Cambridge Analytica used the gathered newsfeed data to count the number of users in Trump’s favor and provide them with the news that involved trump and his good deeds. ( 50 million ) . “Like ” button can be used to track both the data and also store the data that we give voluntarily. To understand the working mechanism of “like” button we first need to understand the concept of cookies.
Cookies are a form of memory cells for websites, they are small files that a websites store on our computer. For example if I visit gap’s online store and add some t-shirt to my cart and then close it and then visit the gap’s website days later it will still identify me through the information stored in the cookie that gap put on my computer and show me the t-shirt that I stored in my cart. Cookies are important for information flow and tracking. Youtube shows me advertisements related to Gyms nearby my home and also food restaurants because I like pictures of fast food and watch gym trainer’s videos on my Instagram and facebook accounts. If you wonder why similar advertisements are shown to you that interests you then its due to cookies that websites put on your computer. Many websites have an embedded “Like” button that begs us to “Like Us on Facebook” with a simple click. When we visit these pages, Facebook may be receiving a significant amount of information, including the amount of time we spend on the page, what we clicked on, and the browser and operating system we use. “Like” Button works similar to the cookies as it store information of our likes on facebook and then uses that information to give user-targeted advertisements.” Facebook has teamed up with corporate data brokers Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai to allow companies to display targeted ads on Facebook based on the data those brokers have on individual users. All of this information is essential to the success of Facebook’s business model, relying as it does on behavioral advertising, targeting content, and tailoring users’ online experiences. Knowing what might make users more or less willing to share personal information with Facebook, therefore, matters to both privacy advocates and information gatherers” (privacy desktop).
“In a series of updates from April, 2015, through July, 2016, Facebook stepped up its strategy of leveraging trust to encourage us to share.” (desktop privacy ) This strategy includes showing the posts that are liked by our facebook friends on the top of our newsfeed to develop a sense of trust. Facebook also shows the posts on which our friends have commented. The post that are liked by our friends also include the advertisements that appear to be as posts liked by our friends which tricks, confuses and manipulates us into clicking on that advertisement. “These tactics exploit the relationship between particular social trust and the propensity to share” (privacy desktop).
Facial recognition feature of facebook searches the photos of the users and let your friends and family tag you in their posts. This might seem useful for recognising your identity if its you or not. Facebook lets you turn on this feature however, over 30 million users were signed in for facial recognition without their consent.( content server).” According to The Montreal Gazette, a University of British Columbia study exposed Facebook’s security system when it failed to stop a large-scale intrusion in which personal information on Facebook users accounts were collected. Researchers said they collected 250 gigabytes of information from Facebook users by using bots, or computer-generated fake Facebook profiles controlled by programming”(explanatory study). These fake accounts were used to send friend requests to other users which could pose the threat of data theft and misinformation campaigns.()
- Carole Cadwalladr, E. G.-H. (2018, march 17). Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach.
- Lilian Edwards, I. B. (2009). Data Control and Social Networking: Irreconcilable Ideas?
- Roosendaal, A. (2011). Tilburg Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series. Facebook Tracks and Traces Everyone: Like This!
- Zimmer, M. (2010). But the data is already public”: on the ethics of research in Facebook. Ethics and information technology, 313-325.