Facebook Isn’t Sorry — the item Just Wants Your Data

Facebook knows us well enough to know the truth: We don’t care enough about our privacy to stop using the item.

Posted on October 9, 2018, at 1:59 p.m. ET



On Monday morning Facebook revealed a fresh gadget — a voice-activated video chat tablet with an always-listening microphone as well as camera for your living room or kitchen of which can detect when you are in your own house. This particular in-home panopticon is actually called Facebook Portal, as well as its debut comes at what might seem like an inopportune time for the company — days after a Gizmodo report revealed the item was harvesting two-factor authentication numbers; less than 10 days after the item revealed of which an attack on its computer network had exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users (as well as left 40 million more vulnerable); as well as barely six months after CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress to explain how the item let Cambridge Analytica acquire the private information of up to 87 million users without consent to be used for psychographic profiling.

To call Facebook’s newest home surveillance device ill-timed is actually generous. the item’s like Trump announcing a fresh resort as well as casino in Moscow or BP announcing a fleet of Deepwater Horizon oil tankers. the item’s a flagrant flex of Facebook’s market share muscle as well as a yet another reminder of which the company’s data collection ambitions supersede all else.

the item’s also further confirmation of which Facebook isn’t particularly sorry for its privacy failures — despite a recent apology tour of which included an expensive “don’t worry, we got This particular” mini-documentary, full-page apology ads in major papers, as well as COO Sheryl Sandberg saying things like, “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve the item.” Worse, the item belies the idea of which Facebook has any real desire to reckon with the structural issues of which obviously undergird its continued privacy missteps.

yet more troubling still is actually what a product like Portal says about us, Facebook’s users: We don’t care enough about our privacy to quit the item.

✔️ loses the data of hundreds of millions of people
✔️ ruins a few elections
✔️ data breach lets anyone into millions of people’s accounts
✔️ still wants to put a online webcam in your kitchen https://t.co/zsB1Jc82VE

Tone-deaf business decisions like Portal are nothing fresh for Facebook. Eleven years ago, before Facebook was even a full behemoth, the item was rolling out invasive features only to issue awkward apologies. The company didn’t appear to hold the foresight then, as well as the item doesn’t appear to at This particular point.

Weeks after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal broke, Facebook announced at its annual conference of which the item might soon use its trove of user data to roll out a dating app to help pair users together in “long-term” romantic relationships. Later from the year, while Zuckerberg told Congress “I promise to do better for you” as well as pledged increased transparency in its handling of users’ data, the company admitted to secretly using a private tool to delete the old messages of its founder. This particular summer, just days after Zuckerberg assured “we have a responsibility to protect people,” reports surfaced of which Facebook asked US banks for granular customer financial data (including card transactions as well as checking account balances) to use for a banking feature. Even the company’s Great faith attempts to secure its platform feel ham-handed as well as oblivious, like last November when Facebook asked users in Australia to upload their nude photos to Facebook for employee review to combat revenge porn.

To observers, these might seem like easily avoidable errors, yet to Facebook, whose very identity as well as foundational mandate is actually the instinctual drive to amass personal data, they make perfect sense.

Facebook’s unquenchable thirst for personal information is actually often interpreted as sinister or malicious in nature — a frame of which feels a bit too convenient. Facebook is actually quite obviously interested in profit as well as power, yet its problems seem to stem less via some inherent evil than a broader, foundational failure to see itself outside of This particular data-gathering, world-connecting prism.

I love how Facebook managed to make a product even creepier than Alexa. https://t.co/wweqmrvit4

Facebook is actually a company founded on the principle of collecting data, as well as virtually every part of its two core missions (“to bring the planet closer together” as well as to deliver profit to shareholders) require amassing more data as well as finding creative fresh ways to parse as well as connect the item. Almost every part of Facebook — via Messenger to News Feed advertisements — improves with every fresh morsel of personal information collected. because of This particular reason, many of Facebook’s biggest problems are technological problems of scale — of amassing as well as processing so much data — as well as yet Facebook argues of which amassing more data is actually the way to improve every experience, which includes fixing its myriad problems. Advertisements intrusive as well as clumsy? Collect more as well as more precise information with which to make them more relevant! Too much algorithmically tailored, low-quality content in News Feed? Ask people to rate as well as rank the item! Collect more data! Feed the item to the algorithms! Then collect even more data as well as use the algorithms to police the item.

Facebook has seen enormous success with This particular strategy. Despite all of the bad press as well as fallout (which includes everything via disrupting the media business to election interference to ethnic cleansing in places like Myanmar), the company is actually vast, powerful, as well as profitable. You know what happened after the Cambridge Analytica scandal? After its first president, Sean Parker, expressed regret over its ruthless monetization of attention? After legislators trotted out examples of election interference in front of executives? Facebook reported earnings as well as monthly average users of which exceeded expectations. The stock spiked.

For Facebook employees, there’s often a cognitive dissonance between their work as well as how they see the item described beyond company walls. “If you could see what I see, a lot of This particular might make more sense,” one current employee told me in October of 2017. Only recently does of which answer definitely begin to make sense: the item’s about the data.

A former senior employee described This particular as part of the “deeply rational engineer’s view” of which guides Facebook’s decisions. “They believe of which to the extent of which something flourishes or goes viral on Facebook — the item’s not a reflection of the company’s role, yet a reflection of what people want,” they said. Data informs how decisions get made; the item also conveniently absolves Facebook of blame.

the item is actually the crystal ball of which allows the company to see ahead as well as do what might feel to us mere mortals (privacy advocates, the media, regular users) as reckless. This particular is actually why Facebook might feel confident rolling out an always-listening home camera a few weeks after a report revealing the company harvested two-factor authentication phone numbers to target users for advertising purposes. as well as the item might be one reason — perhaps among many — of which the founders of both WhatsApp as well as Instagram have left the company in recent months.

For those of you who never read the item or forgot, the 1984 reference you’re looking for when talking about Facebook Portal is actually the “Telescreen” https://t.co/iTD7xGR5Lw

Facebook is actually intimidatingly large as well as deeply woven into our cultural fabric, largely because we have allowed the item to become so, as well as we can’t consider a world without Facebook from the item. the item’s not of which we aren’t worried about politics becoming a Facebook data acquisition as well as targeting game, or outsourcing the public square to a private technology company. the item’s of which the item’s so mind-numbingly hard to imagine how to actually loosen the company’s grip on our discourse, ad ecosystem, as well as our personal information of which we often focus only on superficial or temporary ways to relieve the item.

as well as of which’s a great substrate for apathy. We’ve already given the item so much, why stop at This particular point? No one else is actually going to delete Facebook, so why should I? Facebook understands This particular — the data tells them so. the item also tells them of which slickly produced videos as well as contrite congressional testimony are little ways to ameliorate lingering public concern.

yet the real truth lies from the company’s innovations as well as ambitions, products like Portal. Facebook doesn’t definitely care. as well as maybe we don’t either.

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