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There has been a lot of concern about the latest Facebook privacy scandal with the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, harvested data from more than 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge. This organization exposed a loophole that allowed them to access not only to users data, but also information about their Facebook friends that they shouldn't have had.
This is a wake-up call for everyone. For Facebook, to devise tighter controls to protect their users. For users, to be more proactive about what they share and with whom they share it. Society has become more lax about others having access to our statistical information in exchange for convenience and free services.
Understanding how your data is used
Facebook is a free for all users, which means they make their money through paid advertisements or selling statistical data they collect or have. As the platform has grown to an audience of 2 billion users every day this information about you and all of the other Facebook users it is an advertisers goldmine.
The business model of Facebook is not unique. Google also creates revenue only from advertisers and selling data it collects. This model is not unlike marketing that has been going on for years. I.E., think of the Nielsen ratings tracking our TV viewing habits or credit card companies selling purchase histories, or Costco tracking sales in aisles, at times of the day, or year.
Should I delete my Facebook account?
Facebook's self-described mission to connect the world and promote a global community has completely changed the way we communicate. We can now connect with family, friends, and colleagues not bound by time or distance. It puts news, and other types of information at our fingertips and entertains us. Arguably, this is why we love it, and the user base has grown to a level never before encountered.
Over the past couple of weeks, there have been many prominent people calling for a ban of Facebook. Many have asked users to delete their accounts in protest of marketing tactics gone awry.
However, for the vast majority of users, Facebook is the only way you have to communicate with friends, feel connected, learn about new things.
Deleting Facebook is not a solution to the problem of companies tracking your habits to better their marketing.
If you are worried about what information Facebook might have, there are things you can do without having to delete your account. Understanding privacy controls are essential.
Come along to a class about Facebook to learn more
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