According to Facebook’s own amazing system of self congratulation I re-joined Zuck’s army 6 years ago. My previous hiatus was due to the poor level of content rather than privacy and I rejoined predominately out of necessity. Recent events have made me rethink that decision and I’ve reached the conclusion that I have little choice but to delete my account.
Facebook grabs way more than you give
One of the revelations that’s come to light in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal is the broad reaching aggregation and storage of call data, contact info (of facebook and non facebook users) based on the use of the “Find a Friend” feature. This is a classic example of technical consent being abused. While Facebook haven’t broken any laws in aggregating this data (they did ask for permission) there’s an ethical consideration as to why they need this information, why they feel justified in storing it and whether users were truly aware of the depth of their data sharing agreement with Facebook. Combine this with the “shadow profile” that Facebook keeps on every single user
Privacy controls provide a false sense of security
There are many options for controlling who can see what on your Facebook profile but nothing at all that controls what Facebook and it’s affiliates can do with your data. The concept of privacy presented by the system is only half of the problem. And as has been ably demonstrated, Facebook themselves simply cannot be trusted to treat this data with respect.
This depth of profiling is likely to become more and more dangerous
While there’s work underway to ensure rights to privacy are protected in the modern world, the pace of technological progress is so much faster that we’re likely to see more and more issues of this type running far ahead of the regulation or controls that would prevent them. With increased use of AI and machine learning, the depth of the data set is only going to need to increase and allowing companies to profile you to this level. For more see this amazing Twitter thread from Francois Chollet (ironically enough, a deep learning expert from Google)
I can’t clean my profile
I’ve removed every piece of content from Facebook I can. Deleted all my posts, removed all my photos. But there’s no guarantee that this is actually effective. Facebook have shown they maintain copies of old call logs and I have no reason to believe that content deletion isn’t simply another privacy facade.
So on May 25th (which happens to be the day that the new EU GDPR comes into force) I will be deleting my Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp accounts and filing a formal Right to be Forgotten notice to ensure they’ve removed every last byte of data concerning me, my relationships with others and my interactions from their servers.
Privacy isn’t a right, it’s something we must strive to protect and Facebook’s operations leave me no real choice but to disengage with the platform entirely.
I will still be on Twitter (@robdudley) although I’ll also be reviewing my content footprint there, and I maintain a blog which is self hosted. It’s just a shame that the greed of Facebook meant they can’t stop at running a social platform, choosing instead to profile, analyse and mine their users in increasingly murky and convoluted ways in search of every last $ in advertising revenue. That cost massively outweighs the benefit I get from the platform so, for me at least, the choice is clear.