Although it has only been around for 15 years, Facebook has certainly made its mark on the world and how it functions. For many of its 2.27 billion users, life before Facebook is nothing but a distant memory. An entire generation of people looks to the social media giant to find friends and connect with family, and millions of people rely on its news feed to remain up to date in an ever-changing world.
When more than a quarter of the world’s population is entrusting you with their information there is a huge level of responsibility to protect their privacy. But, while Facebook has been happy to rack up billions in profits, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been oblivious to this massive responsibility.
Since just two years after the birth of the company, Facebook has been dealing with one privacy crisis after the other. While Zuckerberg has publicly vowed to build “a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform,” in reality, the company has consistently made decisions which reinforce the perception that its users have no right to expect privacy or protection of their personal information.
Now, Facebook’s lawyers have gone on the record to confirm that stance publicly, stating in court, “There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy.” (Related: Facebook ‘tramples’ on privacy law by illegally tracking internet users without consent.)
Most of Facebook’s users probably believe that they have the right to expect that their private information will remain private. That is not how Facebook sees it, however. As reported by Big League Politics, the company’s attorney, Orin Snyder, recently argued in court that Facebook is “a digital town square” where users – whether they are aware of it or not – voluntarily surrender their private information.
“You have to closely guard something to have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Snyder noted.
Zuckerberg himself has previously referenced this “town square” concept but has admitted that this is not really what people want and that the company recognizes the need to move away from this business model. He stated in a March Facebook post:
Over the last 15 years, Facebook and Instagram have helped people connect with friends, communities, and interests in the digital equivalent of a town square. But people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room. As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms. Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks. (Related: Facebook apps vacuumed up all your calls and emails from your mobile phone… FOR YEARS… why no prison for Zuckerberg?)
It is said that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If this proves true in Facebook’s case, then it is likely that Zuckerberg’s post will never bear fruit. After all, the company’s history proves that they have little respect for user privacy.
As reported by NBC News, Facebook has faced one privacy issue after the other since 2006.
September 2006: Facebook debuts its news feed. An estimated 1 million users protested that the feature is too intrusive.
Facebook’s response? Users urged to relax, and people gradually accept the change.
December 2009: Facebook pays a $9.5 million settlement and cancels its “Beacon” program launched in 2007, which allowed third party websites to collect and distribute personal information about users without their permission.
November 2011: Facebook is forced to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it allowed its users’ private information to be made public without their permission.
June 2013: A bug in the program exposes private user information, including phone numbers and email addresses of 6 million users.
July 2014: Facebook is caught conducting a mood-manipulation experiment in which the news feeds of 500,000 random users have been altered to manipulate their emotions.
Facebook has also come under scrutiny in Belgium and other parts of Europe for its lax data protection policies.
Clearly, no matter what Mark Zuckerberg has promised over the years – and will no doubt continue to promise – Facebook is about as secure as a sieve when it comes to protecting its users’ private information.
Learn more at PrivacyWatch.news.