Facebook – a social media juggernaut

Time to re-think on international ‘No Facebook’ day

Internet is a universal fundamental right with a few caveats. The adoption rate of Internet and availability of powerful low-cost mobile devices for consumers has marked a major change in our life style. Internet is being used with apps on mobile devices to deliver a robust experience right in the palm of an individual. In this fast moving life, we don’t have time to communicate over snail-mail or old school phone calls. Further, most of us like our memories to be instantly shareable and pinned automatically in a timeline format for us., now Facebook started with a similar concept within a university for campus students and then eventually got public and made it big. Since, it is a digital directory of individual profiles with a lot of data actively uploaded and shared by individuals. Corporate and big brands are more interested on this change and aggressively looking for a gateway to access this data. Facebook is indirectly facilitating it.

Facebook, Inc is a US-based company that offers a family of an online social media, social networking and instant messaging products and services. As per the last quarterly report of 2019, Facebook, Inc’s family of products and services are collectively and actively used by 2.89 billion users every month world-wide using multiple-platforms and devices. It is a little thin of 57% of the world’s current working population today. Facebook originally called itself has 2.5 billion monthly active users and counting. An yearly increase of 8% in number of users has also been reported therein. This family of products include Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. It is all free of cost to use for an end user, there is absolutely no fees whatsoever to gain unprecedented access this huge social media network.

These figures are truly alarming for obvious reasons. US-based Facebook, Inc oversees a vast treasure trove of personal information on most individuals through a family of Apps that is systematically designed to target people of all age groups. The situation is so drastic that it is getting rare to find an individual who is not active on at least one of these apps or service. How is Facebook, Inc managing to offer it free of cost and still making a hefty profit of billions of US dollars in a single quarter every year? The answer is ads. Yes, Facebook, Inc has widely ventured out in the advertising industry. It seems the most profitable business in the world today is to mine data and offer it to the advertising industry. As if Google was not doing enough harm by intruding into our privacy. Another tech giant is now actively tracking us.

Its not a thing that we netizens are oblivious, some us do know that Facebook collects personal data and activity. But unfortunately they do not know how deep the rabbit hole goes and what they are really used for. Facebook records and keep track of every little thing you do including texts and private posts. And it does not stop there.

Facebook claims to be a family of internet based products and services to help people connect stay connected to their loved ones. But apparently there a lot more that is going on behind the scenes. Facebook’s original intention has long lost and it has turned into a mass surveillance engine now. When we share a lot of personal data with a corporate business, it posses a security threat as the custodian of your personal data cannot ever ensure a one hundred percent security.

The most alarming thing about Facebook is that even if you don’t have a Facebook account, Facebook can still track you and profile you with their built-in trackers in other Apps that you use. Facebook is free and yet making a good profit as read above. Your data and activities is the obvious product that is being mined for ads. A very few of you, might not value yourself. But your personality is valuable asset to Facebook.

Facebook could have of-course made money without being unethical. Facebook has faced lots of lawsuits for breach of trust and data privacy issues. It has failed to deter Facebook to be a surveillance engine. Recently they got sued for illegally keeping bio-metric data without users consent.

NY Times wrote, “Facebook said on Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology in Illinois, giving privacy groups a major victory that again raised questions about the social network’s data-mining practices.

Albeit, there are over a dozen of major Facebook lawsuits for mistreating the personal data we entrust Facebook with. I hope you remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

The Street wrote, “Following the news that political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica LLC harvested the data of as many as 50 million Facebook users without proper disclosures or permissions — and now the data-scraping of call logs from Google Android users — a growing number of shareholders and users are suing the giant social network.”

I am sure Facebook talks about its dearest love for privacy and security of your data. The funny part is, people just believe it. It is interesting to read how Facebook, Inc, made more profit despite an year full of privacy scandal and data breaches. Android is one dominant platform to access Internet. With /e/OS, a non-google privacy-oriented Android OS, you can check whether a specific App have Facbook trackers built-in before you download and install from App Store. The data is fetched from database provided by non-profit organization Exodus Privacy.

It is a community based platform to audit trackers used by Android applications. These trackers are built-in or embedded in most apps that we use on daily basis. So, it helps Facebook track you even if you are not using any of their family apps. /e/OS truly respects a user’s privacy and hence includes such important tools by default into the App store among other things.

Manish Gehlot

I am a privacy, security, encryption and software freedom enthusiast. I am into VPNs, TLS security. Recently I also got into technical writings including guides.

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