The Facebook Fracas
The Facebook privacy saga is getting ridiculous. You’re using a free service that you signed up for – nobody was holding a gun to your giant head. And it’s not Gulag either: just delete your profile, uninstall the damned app, and forget Facebook ever existed.
I am sure some of you guardians of privacy realize that Facebook doesn’t pay for its massive infrastructure in unicorn tears. You are the product here. And in exchange you’re allowed to upload all of your cat photos. This is an awesome deal.
When I agreed to Facebook’s terms of service without reading, I totally expected Facebook to abide by the rules, whatever they might have been. And when it came out that Facebook cheated me out of rights I did not know I had, I was totally overwhelmed by feelings of nothing in particular.
Having said that, I never took Facebook’s ToS seriously. I was going to do with Facebook whatever pleased me at the moment and I was sure Zuckerberg was gonna do the same with my data. I mean, look at the guy: I wouldn’t trust him with a bag of lettuce.
Now people with very vague understanding of technology are complaining that Facebook is tracking their IP addresses and uses that information to uncover their location. Yes, that’s how the Internet works. It’s like complaining that someone saw you walking down the street and wrote it down. Well, goddamit, avoid people with pencils and notepads.
Perhaps Facebook should introduce an option of a paid service that will be completely devoid of ads and snooping. Although I am certain such an experiment will end in failure once people learn the cost of data storage and bandwidth needed for all those cat photos.
You wanna keep Facebook accountable – sure, go for it. But stop with the hysterics. When I sign up for an ad-supported service, I expect ads. If I had a choice between a hundred of completely random ads every day, or ten ads that may actually land somewhere in the general vicinity of my interests – I’d pick the ten relevant ads, however creepy.
The only issue I have with Facebook is its data-sharing strategies. I signed up with Facebook and not with the myriad of shady businesses and government agencies that Facebook decided to endow with my personal data.
What information Facebook collects and how may be interesting to me strictly from a technical perspective. Which pieces of my data Facebook shares and with whom is more concerning, I think.
The best option here is not to waste too much time fighting Facebook over the ever-changing technical aspects of data collection and to establish a mandatory limit on data retention across the entire length of the data-sharing chain.
This way, when Facebook shares some data it hoarded about me with A, B, and C, and the data retention period ends, then not just Facebook, but A, B, and C (and any downstream recipients) will have to purge this data. This will be difficult to enforce, but, if the rules are clear enough, this would be just a technical challenge.
How can this be accomplished, technically speaking? Well, maybe by requiring using open-source blockchain technology for tracking both data sharing and deletion.