Facebook’s data empire.
Facebook, as a large online platform, is one of the mainstream social media platforms in the United States, with a huge treasure trove of user data. These data include users’ personal information, interests, social circles, browsing history, published content, and interaction records with other users, forming a large and diverse dataset, Facebook – Statistics and Facts. The breadth and diversity of these data give Facebook enormous power and influence. User data belongs to resources that can be mutually beneficial and have the ability to be reused. Users will attract each other, and their friends, family, and friends will bring more users and data, expanding Facebook’s influence. The vast amount of basic data has also given Facebook tremendous power in the advertising market. Advertisers can accurately target their advertising audience based on factors such as geographic location, interests, age, and gender provided by the data, which means higher ad click through rates and investment returns. This has made Facebook an indispensable marketing channel for advertisers, further enhancing its position in the digital field, Facebook Revenue and Usage Statistics.
Major platforms sued for misusing user data.
The breadth of user data held by Facebook raises important questions about privacy and data security. However, after this serious issue was raised, Facebook’s data abuse problem was exposed to the public’s view. Recently, the most eye-catching topic is that Facebook was fined US$7.5 billion for privacy violations. This incident triggered widespread discussion and highlighted the importance of private data and the urgency of respecting personal data. Even just looking at this huge amount can show the importance and influence of data in the Internet age, and such serious treatment is the punishment Facebook deserves. In the incident, Facebook was suspected of sharing users’ personal information to third-party applications through fraud and deception, without the users’ permission. With the development of the Internet and the intrusion of digital platforms into people’s daily lives, the amount of people’s personal information and online activities has become extremely considerable, and this data is widely collected and utilized to meet various commercial, social and political purposes. Therefore, the value and availability of data make misuse and mishandling of personal data an option for profit making on the Internet. From this point of view, Facebook’s deception of users and abuse of users’ personal information can be understood as unauthorized commercial profit-making behavior, which is a contempt and neglect of users’ legitimate rights.
Although this is not Facebook’s first abuse of information, it is still a case of serious breach of trust and contempt for users’ human rights. Large technology companies have an obligation to make information security efforts aimed at protecting information that is available, accurate, true, confidential, complete, useful and possessive(Whitman and Mattford Citation, 2004). Facebook’s information leakage caused users’ information to lose its due confidentiality and its due protective attitude towards information security. Information security on the Internet can even be regarded as the personal safety of users. The protection from companies that collect this information is a firewall for user data in the information flow. Companies that actively give up on protecting data and information security should compensate and compensate users. Apologize and accept user complaints and dissatisfaction.
As mentioned earlier, the leakage of personal privacy data has become an increasingly serious problem, and if not properly protected, it may lead to a series of significant hazards. The following will explore these potential hazards, emphasizing the importance of privacy protection and the necessity of taking measures to address these threats. The first thing to understand is the potential threats on the internet: hackers, viruses, trojans, backdoors, spam, pirated software, and so on(Huang et al., 2010). The severity of these threats is not equal, but their commonality is that they can all cause harm to people’s physical, economic, and even interpersonal relationships. Once the leaked user data reaches the hands of illegal profiteers, the leaked users can be easily harassed, or even lose money and reputation. Even if the individual or group receiving the data does not use it to persecute or infringe on the rights of individual users, it is difficult to determine whether the data will be used for data fraud, as the content, interaction, and opinions posted by users on the platform become a part of social opinion, sometimes even affecting political elections and social movements. This social influence not only limits the platform’s role to social interaction, but also serves as an important channel for disseminating information and opinions. In short, the leakage of private data may cause serious harm to individuals, businesses, and society. In the era of the Internet, protecting private data is crucial, and large companies managing data have a responsibility to minimize the risk of privacy data leakage and ensure the security and trustworthiness of the Internet.
The end of data? just misguided.
This has to give a question: why are users willing to create data and use the functions it brings when there is such a great risk of user data leakage?
Firstly, Facebook has achieved a highly personalized user experience through this user data. From user news sources to advertising placement, almost every user can see content closely related to their interests and preferences on the platform. When people’s gaze is on content that interests them, they naturally stay in this comfort zone for a longer period of time and may develop dependency.
Secondly, data has functionality, which can help people more conveniently summarize information and complete tasks. Art project leaders can use big data to help complete practices and “highlight how to present and explain it in new ways”(Osborne et al., 2018).
In this way, data is a handy tool, but its problem is how people should use it and limit it. When an effective tool is used in the right direction, it can produce an effect of one plus one greater than two, but if used to harm others and make unlimited profits, it is a weapon that is more threatening than a knife or gun. After drawing a conclusion, re-examining the way Facebook processes user data reveals that it still needs to be regulated and there is still room for improvement.
For large technology companies like Facebook, Kolkman(2018) suggested that companies holding personal and sensitive data should be extra vigilant in protecting user data. Questions about Facebook’s reputation and user support still need to be discussed. In Larsen’s(2022) investigation of Facebook, it was found that the platform was reticent and even misleading when sharing data with researchers. From a user’s perspective, such a negative attitude is detrimental to the platform’s reputation and user support. Even if Facebook accepts the high compensation proposed by users, such compensation is not considered a loss that affects the platform’s actual profits. Moreover, Facebook’s actual actions do not have a fully reflective and apologetic attitude. In order to gain users’ support, platforms should abide by the law, value users’ rights, assume more social responsibilities, ensure that users’ data is properly protected, and provide more transparent data usage policies. Relying solely on the vigilance and vigilance of users themselves will only limit the development of technology and data, causing people to panic about technology and unable to fully utilize it in work, study and life.
Huang, D.-L., Rau, P.-L. P., & Salvendy, G. (2010). Perception of information security. Behaviour & Information Technology, 29(3), 221–232. https://doi.org/10.1080/01449290701679361
Kolkman, O. (2018, October 1). The facebook breach: Some lessons for the internet. Internet Society. https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2018/10/the-facebook-breach-some-lessons-for-the-internet/
Larsen, R. (2022). ‘information pressures’ and the Facebook files: Navigating questions around leaked platform data. Digital Journalism, 10(9), 1591–1603. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2022.2087099
Osborne, T., Warner, E., Jones, P. I., & Resch, B. (2018). Performing social media: Artistic approaches to analyzing Big Data. GeoHumanities, 5(1), 282–294. https://doi.org/10.1080/2373566x.2018.1543552
Whitman, M. E., & Mattord, H. J. (2022). Principles of Information Security. Cengage.