I’ve been half heartedly following the latest Facebook scandal involving a company called Cambridge Analytica.
Apparently this company used a Facebook quiz (taken by 270,000 people ) to mine the personal information of 50,000,000 Facebook users (the ‘friends’ of those who took the quiz) and then sold the data to politicians and political parties on the ‘Leave’ side to allow them to target undecided voters in the Brexit referendum. Without their knowledge. Facebook was well aware that this was happening. Allegedly.
Well of course it was – how could anyone be surprised by this?
I am a regular user of Facebook, checking it on a daily basis, I use it to validate my self worth as a human being. If I don’t get a minimum of fifteen likes per post, then I feel that I have failed as an individual. I also use it to share pictures of the meals I eat, the holidays I take, and to keep people up to date about how successful and happy and rich and fulfilled I am. And to share my innermost thoughts on the political issues of the day, and the state of my personal relationships. While letting everyone know that based on the quizzes I have taken, my general knowledge indicates that I have the education of a PhD graduate.
Actually I am making all that up. I do no such thing. I mainly use it as a means to promote my blog. I never take quizzes to see what I look like as a female; or to see which Disney villain I am.
The phrase ‘when a company gives you something for free, then you are the product’ is a corporate update on the old expression ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’.
I am aware that any photos I put on the platform are now available to the world – regardless of the privacy settings I place on them. The privacy settings being absolute nonsense of course – I mean why would anyone trust Facebook to respect their privacy?
Based on his rare public appearances and statements, and judging by the film ‘The Social Network’ it would appear that founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg may well be ‘on the spectrum’ when it comes to compassion towards his fellow human being. Didn’t he steal the idea and use it to stalk an ex-girlfriend? Allegedly?
Like all multinationals Facebook is a highly efficient and deeply amoral corporation when it comes to trivialities like paying an equitable amount of tax. Its European headquarters are in the notorious tax haven of Ireland, which jumps through hoops to allow companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Apple etc launder their money and profits through this country. Thankfully however the staff at these companies are well aware of how disposable they are – that as soon as Poland or Hungary allows easier tax dodging, then their employers will discard them like used toilet paper.
In the UK we have the tragic image of MPs trying to divert attention from the entirely predictable sight of Facebook dealing in Fake News and allowing scumbag politicians to influence elections by telling barefaced lies.
We are meant to be outraged by the fact that Theresa May’s special adviser Stephen Parkinson outed as gay Shahmir Sanni – the whistle-blower who revealed to the press, how the pro-Brexit side had used dodgy Facebook data to influence the election.
While outing someone as gay against their will is certainly not nice (and in this case quite nasty as Sanni is from Pakistan – a country where being gay is illegal, and his family did not know he is gay), it is hardly the crime of the century. Particularly since Parkinson and Sanni were in a long term personal relationship and Sanni appears to have ‘borrowed’ information from Parkinson before, telling his tale.
If the outrage was to be directed anywhere surely it should be to demand that Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg) be held criminally liable for selling people’s private data. That will never happen of course as silly things like laws and tax, don’t apply to these corporate behemoths.
Surely the best remedy would be to regulate and tax these tech companies. In a manner governments have failed so dismally to do with banks.
But we all know that this won’t happen.
I’m not closing my Facebook account however. I find it quite useful.
After all I am not an ‘undecided’ voter on any issue – I am on the Karl Marx side of the matter in any debate.
Stories about how companies like Cambridge Anaytica harvest information on Facebook users to sell to politicians is actually FakeNews.
The government’s refusal to attempt to govern or tax these corporations is the real story. But let’s not worry about that. Are you among the 3% of the world’s population who can identify these geographical landmarks?