Facebook’s recent fraudulent activities have still been ongoing, making us question the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg.
Just how did 367 people doing a silly quiz on Facebook end up compromising the personal information of over five lakh Indian Facebook accounts. Apparently, the quiz app developed by a researcher did not just scrape the details of the people who did the quiz but of all their friends as well. And given that in the days of social media, ‘friendships’ have become more tenuous, people have hundreds and even thousands of friends, a marked difference from the time before social media when studies proved that most individuals on average knew about 200 other people. But while social media made tenuous and long-lost connections possible, you can keep in touch with school mates even if they are two continents away. But as is becoming obvious there has been a price for all this, a price where people’s personal information has been harvested and then ‘weaponised’ to be used against them.
There is nothing wrong in researchers using anonymised data from Facebook and other sources for analytics and analysis. However, the way the data was harvested by firms such as Cambridge Analytica, and rest assured they were not the only ones, almost always with the full knowledge and even support of Facebook has been a monumental breach of trust by Mark Zuckerberg whose personal ethics are under a cloud.
Indeed, the use of Facebook to spread hate and occasionally even physical violence against the ‘other’ has become a major issue, especially in Myanmar where the spread of hate content through social media has led to incredible levels of violence and worse, justifications for that violence against Rohingyas. Data theft, fake information, the list of crimes that Facebook has openly abetted goes on and on. Worse, the company has tried to circumvent regulation and it appears prescient now that activists prevented Facebook from launching their devious ‘free internet’ scheme in India last year.
Nobody is arguing that Facebook should be banned, but the narrative that it is a force for good has changed. It is useful for most users which is why most will not leave, it does help people stay connected and it does help useful news reach new audiences. But facebook has also damaged the foundations of the internet and has impacted genuine news providers and directed people to specious sites spreading false news while impacting revenues of news providers. Facebook needs to be regulated, not just in India but across the world and maybe just maybe, Facebook’s board needs to find a better person to run the company.
Courtesy: The Pioneer