Friday, March 23, 2018

Has Social Media Finally "Jumped the Shark"?

A little more than a month ago (and before the revelation – gasp! – that Facebook was collecting data), I decided to step away from Facebook for a while. The constant bickering, negativity and outright nastiness was NOT the reason that I signed up to use Facebook to start with.

Over the years, I certainly jumped into the middle of some “heated” debates. And some of them – with people that I genuinely respect – were actually worthwhile.  But even some of those – it is difficult to really debate someone in a series of micro-essays.  Plus, points were taken out of context, or ignored, or sometimes just completely fabricated, making the conversations strained.  I “lost” several Facebook friends because of these conversations, and damaged relationships with others.

Recently, the media has been reporting on the fact that Trump (and Obama) used Facebook data for political purposes – either nefariously, or as an integral part of their political apparatus.  To this security professional, with a deep background in political science, my first thought was: how is this even news? Is that not what the political campaigns are supposed to be doing? If I were running a political campaign again, for sure I would be using any/all data available to me to promote my candidate / issue to ensure victory.

Ironically, the story was more focused around the fact that Facebook collects your data.

If the fact that Facebook collects your data, sells your data, manipulates your data, and owns your data comes as a shock to you, then we REALLY need to have a one-on-one conversation about Information Security basics.

For the cheap seats: Facebook is a data company. They take massive data stores of information and sell that information to advertisers, political campaigns, and pretty much anyone / everyone else they can to generate revenue.


If you have a problem with this idea – that a third party is taking your personal data (pictures, education, background, even location at any given time) and selling it to the highest bidder - then I highly recommend that you immediately take whatever steps necessary to delete your Facebook account (and – they just announced that even if you delete you FB account, your data may take up to 90 days to be completely purged from their systems).

I’m not quite there – yet.  I still want to be able to contact some long lost friends through Facebook if I need to, and Facebook is still the most convenient way. Besides, that was the primary reason I joined Facebook to begin with – check in on long lost friends, and the occasional puppy picture.