Facebook Updated Its Privacy Settings! And It Is a Huge Deal!*
Sorry, Zuck. Your updated UI hardly looks like contrition.
[*To absolutely nobody.]
So many questions for Mark Zuckerberg right now. Like:
- Why wait almost a week to do press on the recent Cambridge Analytica mess?
- Why wait until your company bled $100 billion in stock market value to do it?
- Or, lol, was that what it took?
- Why did make such underwhelming promises to try to regain Facebook users’s trust?
- Does anyone really think small, insignificant tweaks to the UI of Facebook’s user privacy controls will at all remedy any of what just happened to the majority of Facebook’s users, given what they know about the value of their data?
The same changes just made to Facebook’s privacy controls would’ve been necessary anyway if Facebook were to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — the sweeping personal data protection measures the European Union will implement in May. So! Nobody should be shocked that these updates “…have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance.” Nor should they be convinced they have any altruistic motives behind them. That hardly looks like contrition.
Giving users more tools to know who they gave access to all their data, but no sense of who Facebook allowed to have it, is lukewarm, and disingenuous response to their catastrophic failure to protect personal data. Theoretically, they could easily show users who might have their information already. Are they going to get those Friends of Facebook’s (Supposedly Protected Data That Isn’t) to start shredding their documents?
We didn’t think so.
The damage is done. And the “Privacy Shortcuts” menu Facebook released today is far too little, far too late. Even with a proverbial gun to his head, Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to ensure the safety of users’ personal data. Whether #deletefacebook will have a long-term impact on its users’ behavior? Or whether or not Facebook will face any serious upstart competition for those users? Impossible to tell. But if this new update shows anything about lasting change in Facebook’s attitude towards users’ data, it says boldly, loudly, and clearly: In the long-term, we don’t truly give a shit, only enough to fool people into thinking we might.
Update (3/30/2018, 8:45am): Facebook has announced late on Wednesday that it’s ending its ad-targeting program called Partner Categories — a program that allows data brokers to collect data of Facebook users. While this is a far more promising step in the right direction than a reshuffling of user privacy options, the extent of the effects of this change are pretty much impossible to predict. Putting pressure on third party ad buyers will surely effect Facebook’s bottom line, however, and will only (hopefully) support the fight for online privacy.
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