Facebook is in the news recently for some not so good reasons. In case you missed it, a research firm called Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal information of 50 million Facebook users, and used this to "influence" the Presidential election. After days of silence, Facebook executives have finally come forward and would like users to think that this was an isolated case by some bad actors, but the real problem here is that this actually hits at the core of the Facebook business model.
Just stop and think for a minute about how a company can make Billions of dollars giving away a "free" product. Well, it just doesn't add up. All the information you post on line, or "like" reveals a lot about who you are, and this is very valuable to advertisers. You may not like the political candidate who benefited from this particular use of the platform, but Coca Cola, car companies, and just about everyone who advertises on line is basically working the same way. They're using your profile to influence you too.
This past December, several US employers were accused of age discrimination over ads placed on Facebook (Source: Fortune). Companies such as T-Mobile, Cox Communications, and Amazon imposed age limits for people who could see recruitment ads, limiting some to people under 38. Are you okay with that?
Marc Goodman's bestselling book "Future Crimes" devotes a chapter to this topic: "You're not the customer, you're the product". (We highly recommend this book!) The latest scandal is a wake up call to everyone online to think carefully about privacy. The connected world provides so many opportunities for us, but too many users are oblivious to the lack of privacy on line. You may be okay with your current level of privacy, and may even welcome some targeted ads, but let it be a fully informed decision on your part.
For more details, and specific recommendations for reviewing and changing your privacy settings on Facebook, or perhaps even removing your account, we recommend The Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy in Wired Magazine. Get informed, and take control of your online presence.