Jayson Veley–It has recently been revealed that the research firm Cambridge Analytica secretly collected the private data and information of 50 million Facebook users in order to determine their voting patterns based on personality. The shocking revelation has prompted millions of Internet users to take to Twitter and participate in the #DeleteFacebook campaign, urging others to get rid of their Facebook account for good.
It turns out that Facebook is already starting to feel the negative effects of this boycott. As reported by Newsweek, “Facebook shares dropped by more than six percent, slashing over $30 billion from the company’s valuation.” Even Mark Zuckerberg’s wallet isn’t safe – according to Forbes, his personal net worth has dropped by an astonishing $5 billion. This is exactly what happens when you tell the American people that you are running a social media site, when in reality, you’re running a surveillance organization that spies on users without their knowledge or consent.
To add insult to injury, a former Facebook platform operations manager by the name of Sandy Parakilas has stepped forward, claiming that the company routinely participated in “horrifying” misuse of user data, and that Facebook actually preferred to have “no idea” what third parties were doing with the information that they were given.
“My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” Parakilas explained. “It has been painful watching… Because I know that they could have prevented it.” He added that once the information went out to third parties, there was “no insight into what was going on,” which put Facebook in a better legal position because they could claim that they weren’t aware of any abuse or mishandling of data. (Related: A Facebook plan to spy on users through their own smartphone camera to analyze their facial expressions has been exposed.)
But this former Facebook employee isn’t the only who has criticized the social media giant recently. Just days ago, CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden took to Twitter to launch a blistering attack at Zuckerberg, his team, and how they run the business: “Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as ‘surveillance companies,’” he wrote, adding, “Their rebranding as ‘social media’ is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.” Snowden went on to accuse Facebook of making money by “exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post.”
Above all else, this is a liberty issue. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution was put in place in order to defend the American people from this sort of abuse, and beyond that, its purpose was to prevent America’s government and institutions from moving in the direction towards tyranny. If companies like Facebook actually respected the Constitution, then none of this would be happening. (Related: A former Facebook executive by the name of Chamath Palihapitiya says that social media is “ripping society apart.”)
What often happens, sadly, is that the liberty and the privacy rights of the American people are discarded for profit. Chances are Mark Zuckerberg and his team see nothing wrong with infringing upon the Fourth Amendment rights of users and selling their information – without their knowledge and consent – to third parties for money. The American people need to let social media giants like Facebook know that their ability to make a profit does not trump our constitutional liberties; otherwise, this abuse will only continue.
Read MarkZuckerberg.news for more coverage of the evils of the Zuck.