Can tech companies like Facebook really protect your privacy when it’s your privacy they profit from?

Business / Editorial / Security / Tech

Yesterday we reported that CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg was making deals with app developers and 3rd parties in exchange for user data. According to NBC, the company was leveraging the data they collect from users to place Facebook in a good business position. In some cases, Zuckerberg and senior executives would withhold data from some 3rd parties in order to gain the upper-hand.

Last month, Zuckerberg posted a lengthy blog entry outlining how Facebook intended to pivot its model to a more privacy-focused platform. But can companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and others really protect your privacy when it is your private data they profit from?

First, we have to understand that as users, we are now in this knee-deep. For years we’ve all accepted terms of service and terms of use that we have never read. It’s these terms of service and use that have ultimately led us to the situation we all find ourselves in now.

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Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook

Facebook and Google are well aware that users are more apt to accept terms of service when that service appears to be free on the surface. However, under the surface, these companies basically own you. Facebook even tracks you across the internet, even if you don’t have a Facebook account.

Dan Goldstein is the president and owner of Page 1 Solutions and he had this to say about the most recent Facebook situation:

These documents demonstrate why Facebook continues to be embroiled in privacy scandals. Zuckerberg and his team have treated user data as a commodity. The commodification of personal information inevitably means the company will relegate privacy and security to the back seat in pursuit of profit.

Facebook now claims that it has found religion and plans to be a beacon for privacy in interactions on the platform. The more likely scenario is that this is a response to market forces and/or the threat of regulation. Facebook likely had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the conclusion, and now the company is pivoting to save face.

Users have good reason to be skeptical about Facebook’s sincerity when it comes to the messaging around its renewed commitment to privacy protection. If Zuckerberg previously sought to gauge the market value of user data, that shows his mindset and makes you wonder whether he will try to do it again.

Third-party access to Facebook data was at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Zuckerberg effectively opened the door for third-party developers to misuse data on the platform because Facebook itself signaled that it was (and potentially still is) willing to deal in private user data with companies that agree to pay a premium for the information.

Dan Goldstein President and Owner Page 1 Solutions
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Given that a major portion of Facebook and Google’s revenue comes from advertising and “streamlining” the user experience, it seems impossible that any of these tech companies will protect your privacy.

It’s certainly an interesting predicament we find ourselves in at this point. Either we continue to allow these companies to track our lives — or we find services that we pay for and don’t track us at all. I do not see this situation resolving itself any time soon and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

What are your thoughts? Do you think tech companies like Facebook and Google could ever protect your privacy? Do you think they would stop using your data for profit? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

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