The facebook fiasco

Few months ago I wrote a similar post on this: Truth according to the internet, a real-life horror story. Why didn’t anyone put proper research before questioning Mark? He got away so easy. He lied about things like facebook doesn’t have a monopoly, given that it owns instagram and whatsapp. And there is most certainly not an easy way to delete your facebook. One has to go through the timeline and delete each post/comment individually. And some activity cannot be deleted, but only “hidden from timeline” or made private. The data you shared during signup to other apps using facebook cannot be deleted. Also there is only a “deactivate account” option and when you login again, it is back. There is no “delete account” option that deletes instantaneously (takes upto 90 days) or deletes all of the content like sent messages in other people’s phones/accounts.

The real questions are:

  1. There was a feature recently disabled after this fiasco, which lets anyone look up someone using their phone number or email. The estimate is that all people using facebook have had their profiles scraped. Is there a way to find out who owns such data and also make them delete it?
  2. How much access do the developers at facebook have on the private data. What are the security/privacy practices followed at facebook? Mark dodged this. But the standard development practice is to have developers work on copies of the data during development, which are usually scrambled to remove private data like phone numbers and email addresses.

The truth is, so many of the best minds in the world are recruited by the top dogs at silicon valley and put to work to solve one problem. How to make the most money out of users’ private data by selling ads. Sure, they are building products, making lives easier for millions of people. But the end goal remains the same. To sell ads.

The best example is google which made 84%+ of their revenue from ads and is now worth $700 billion. Google tracks every google search you made, every page visited in Chrome, every place you searched on maps, youtube history and even the apps you opened in android. Just visit https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity to see your search history from 2014.

And don’t get me started on the apps that silently track you and don’t provide a page like this to let you view what they know about you.

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