The state of votes
The sinking of Facebook
Jean-Baptiste Hubert|translated by: Kummer Livia
Veronika Bajnoková| translated by: Veronika Bajnoková
Jean-Baptiste Hubert | translated by: Kummer Livia | 2018. May 12. 00:00
The recent scandal linking the web giant and Cambridge Analytica represents only the visible face of a massive iceberg ironically spared from destruction by global warming. Personal data has become a cryptocurrency just as Bitcoin, its ownership passionately changing hands between holders and investors who are eager to shape the world in their image. A company where President Trump or President Putin have their seat helped their ascent by these new traders.
Having a tool that is powerful enough to influence two billion people on a daily basis necessarily implies great responsibility. Looking at Facebook's story we can say that the social network has never taken this responsibility seriously. Let's start the introspection in January 2016 when the moderation policy indicated that a video broadcasting two teenagers obviously in the middle of a forced sexual act "did not go against the standards of Facebook". On the other hand, there is widespread censorship of causes that deserve the greatest possible exposure, such as the campaign raising awareness on breast cancer early in 2018, which was unjustly erased because of a "too apparent" exposure of the chest. As another example, we can use the interference during the US presidential campaign with more than 29 million voters targeted by Russian digital programs buying advertising space on the platform. This was coupled with the infamous "Fake News" spreading on Facebook without any action being taken against them, which enabled the unsurprising victory of the real estate mogul. Finally, the Cambridge Analytica controversy does not seem to differentiate from the previous setbacks, since it is once again a case of trading in personal data without any user consent. Your private life is no longer private at all.
When Facebook was conceived, it started with a simple but innovative idea to connect students at first at Harvard University, and after its growing success, also on a much larger scale of the population. If Mark Zuckerberg was able to establish himself initially as a leader, it is not the case today. Indeed, the California start-up’s exponential growth (431 million subscribers in 2010 in contrast to 2.13 billion in 2017) exceeded all expectations, and by that also surpassed the leadership ability of its captain.
For most people, his character remains a mystery – is he the clever thinker with great naivety or the big bad wolf? No one can really answer this question, and so the words and acts from inside his company are contradictory. Based on what he said on March 21, 2018 after the new scandal had arisen: "This constituted a very important breach of trust and I am very sorry" followed by "I launched Facebook, and in the end, I am responsible for what happens there", we could consider him the victim of the system that privileges money to people. George Gipe stated: "Responsibility is to do the right thing before being punished, not after"; to attribute this quality to the young prodigy is then difficult.
A CEO must have a course. Travis Kalanick has paid the price, when after being the head of Uber since 2009, in 2017 he was pressured to step down by the shareholders since they were concerned about the negative image of the young businessman. I do not think it is risky to claim that Mark Zuckerberg, sailing in the midst of polemics and scandals, does not know where he is going. CNN has already noted that within a year the star of Silicon Valley has passed from "the darling for 2020 [...] to political calamity". As to the keeping of his status, the future is therefore uncertain.
Before decrying Facebook, one must be able to propose an alternative that would fulfill the primary functions of the platform. A BDM study reveals that 54% of the Internet users go to Facebook to browse photos and videos, 50% to share some moments of their lives with their friends, 43% to access entertaining content. Paradoxically, people comment but do not necessarily update their own profile – 25% have never done so and only 10% do it every day. In addition to that, another great reason to join this network is the Messenger application which has 1.3 billion members today. Taking into account these expectations, to find some alternatives to Facebook may seem quite possible.
If you wish to see reliable and useful news join "Nuzzel"! This app syncs with your favorite social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter to give you access. Will you miss Messenger? How about using "WhatsApp", this messaging app is both convenient and encrypted, and it will meet all of your needs! Are you scared of missing an event organized by your school or city? "Paperless" is here at your service to send invitations by post, and "Doodle" allows you to decide on a convenient timing for everyone. And if you are not invited anywhere without Facebook, it may be time to question the sincerity of your "friends". If it is the "groups" that matter to you, try "GroupMe" – an application that creates a group chat that allows you to chat and make plans with your colleagues. Finally, if it is the disappearance of the alert "Today is Paul's birthday, wish him a happy birthday!" that is holding you back, to save the date on your phone will not take you more than 20 seconds.
Thus, despite an innovative idea which has seduced a third of the world's population, Facebook seems to be at its last breath as the trust of its users eroded. At the request of Mark Zuckerberg to grant him once again our confidence, I will answer "Trust is acquired, not requested – the one who deserves it does not need to ask for it", Emile de Girardin.
Veronika Bajnoková | translated by: Veronika Bajnoková | 2018. May 28. 09:00
With the trending hashtag #DeleteFacebook, people are encouraged to leave their accounts due to misuse of their personal data. In fact, our data is gathered every day everywhere. So will quitting Facebook actually help us to prevent this?
We live in the era where our privacy is threatened by technology. Therefore people fear that their personal information is misused. The current threat to this basic human right is largely discussed worldwide. Through the recent news from the East we are informed about the strict surveillance technology in China. Cameras with facial recognition terrify not only its inhabitants, but also the world population, as it markedly reminds us of George Orwell’s Big Brother. Even though the European continent has been so far avoiding this dystopia, people do not feel safe about their personal matters anymore.
A privacy topic more relevant to Europe is the use of social networks. The aforementioned services enable its users to share every moment of their lives with friends, families and many others. Facebook has become the most powerful social media since it was launched in 2004. The social networking service originated with Mark Zuckerberg and became instantly famous and popular. The number of its monthly active users has exceeded 2 billion people. This means that almost one third of the total world population is connected only through Facebook. Such a widespread social media network naturally has a great impact on the society which we live in.
The original purpose of Facebook was to connect people around Harvard University. After reaching other universities in the United States, Canada, and also in the United Kingdom, Zuckerberg expanded the network also to high schools. Only after September 2006 was Facebook accessible to a wider public. Building on their achieved success, Facebook expanded its options so users can now not only chat with their friends, but also follow various pages, create groups and events, upload photos and videos and share every moment of their lives with 2 billion others. But in order to prevent free access to personal information, a user can edit his or her Privacy Settings and limit the access for others to his or her data.
Moreover, it looks like many people have misunderstood the term “friend”. Maybe nowadays it is a trend to have at least one thousand people on one’s “friend list”, but it is impossible to personally know all of them. It is very important to reconsider which people can have the access to our personal data and regulate the information which we decide to upload. If someone has a “friend list” consisting of more than five hundred such “friends”, it is very unsafe for example to upload a phone number either onto the news feed or to send it through the Messenger application. Also this is one of the reasons why news feed is full of unwanted content, hoaxes or spams. It can also be dangerous if someone is liking pages and is a member of groups which are not verified and potentially can share harmful “posts”. It is solely a matter for the users to decide which pages they want to follow but they should be precautious.
Once you are a part of the Facebook society, it is not so easy to leave the online world. There might be plenty of applications which are able to substitute certain functions. However, finding a single one that could completely replace Facebook and Messenger applications in our lives does not seem very feasible. There are many reasons why people cannot quit Facebook. They got used to the comfort and simplicity offered by these applications. Besides, deleting your Facebook account would mean not only leaving some communities, but losing contact with many acquaintances as well. It is a place where people can bond, even if they live in different parts of the world. On the other hand, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook was trending mainly on Twitter. Nonetheless it did not result in any kind of major upheaval, since CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The New York Times he has not seen a “meaningful number of people” deleting their accounts.
In addition, do not forget that Cambridge Analytica was a third-party application. To gain access to such third-party apps they usually require data about your Facebook, furthermore some of them accept only Facebook accounts. If you decide to leave the blue online world, you will have to count on not having the advantage of using their services. What is more, you will as well lose the access to the applications to which you have signed in with your Facebook account, together with all your data. You might lose for instance an Instagram account, all the songs you have downloaded on Spotify or even contact with people on Tinder.
Before you decide to quit Facebook, make sure you rethink it twice. Everything has its pros and cons and so does Facebook. After all, we are the ones who built the blue society. Do we really want to cease it or just correct its mistakes?
Jean-Baptiste Hubert|translated by: Kummer Livia
Veronika Bajnoková| translated by: Veronika Bajnoková
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