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Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are infamous for their stance on privacy. But the company and Zuckerberg himself have been harshly criticized for it for years. But Facebook has been making changes that might indicate a change of heart. It could also be a gesture intended to make Facebook users comfortable about sharing.
History of Privacy on Facebook
Privacy on Facebook has been an issue since 2005. Not all of the data breaches were initiated by Facebook, but they have violated user privacy more than any security oversight. Facebook is meant to be a place where people can share information. But they have not respected the limitations of who people mean to share it with. This has caused a lot of problems between the company and its users, at least one of which led to a cash settlement with the FCC. But the most recent outcry, over their mood experiment, may have caused the company to reconsider the levels of privacy on Facebook.
Everyone knows today that Facebook makes tons and tons of money off advertising. They can do this because of the data that they have on their users. Last month, Facebook started branching out, getting user data off other online channels. This is not uncommon, but is worrisome considering the track record of privacy on Facebook. The company now has access to more than a ton of user data. And it is not properly informing people about what data it holds on them. Facebook did not even inform users that it is gathering the data in the first place.
Current Privacy on Facebook – Endeavor or Charade?
Despite the more recent Facebook projects, the company has made efforts on the data privacy front. They have launched campaigns to help users learn how to use the different settings for privacy on Facebook. They also made these settings easier to see and use, a repeated issue since 2006. They have changed what advertisements appear on users’ newsfeeds. And they have included explanations of why certain ads are shown to a user. This helps solve some issues that users have complained about since 2010. They even finally allow users to connect to other sites and apps without having to share their profile information. This has also been a problem since 2010.
The question that must be answered at this point is what Facebook’s motivation is. We admit an inherent distrust of their purpose, but can anyone blame us? The fact is that Zuckerberg and Facebook representatives have been very open about their thoughts on privacy. They think that privacy is an unreasonable expectation these days. But they have faced a lot of criticism and a huge drop in their user base. That must be a very sobering experience. So these efforts for better privacy on Facebook can be one of two things. First, there may be a genuine endeavor underway to respect user privacy. Second, it is all an attempt to soothe people into believing they can maintain privacy on Facebook so that the company can continue making millions of dollars off user data.