Facebook as the ’Big Brother’
Facebook is undoubtedly the biggest social networking site of our world nowadays, therefore it is clear that is has an immense infulence on people and their life. The site has the power of controlling all the personal data of its users, and since it is a pretty huge number (more than 800 million active users), it also must be responsible for the safety of these information. However, I have to say, I’m not comfortable with how much Facebook seems to know about me.
The first well-known problem is data mining. Facebook admittedly collects information from us: “We may use information about you that we collect from other Facebook users to supplement your profile. In such cases we generally give you the ability to remove the content (such as allowing you to remove a photo tag of you) or limit its visibility on your profile.” This statment may sound nice, but in fact, the site stores much more data about us than we would think. For example, it is very surprising how fast the program finds our potential friends, and what is even more weird that in almost all of the cases we actually know the recommended person. How does Facebook know that I know them? One way is that it can somehow access my email contact list and compare those names to people who have accounts with Facebook. I don’t recall ever giving anyone permission to look into my address book and am pretty sure I don’t like it.
Another scary issue is the inability of terminating our account. Facebook has allowed users to deactivate their accounts but not actually remove account content from its servers. A Facebook representative explained to a student from the University of British Columbia that users had to clear their own accounts by manually deleting all of the content including wall posts, friends, and groups (which is almost impossible, clearly). A New York Times article noted the issue, and also raised a concern that emails and other private user data remain indefinitely on Facebook’s servers.
Furthermore, the representatives of Facebook often cooperate with government requests. Government authorities rely on Facebook to investigate crimes and obtain evidence to help establish a crime, provide location information, establish motives, prove and disprove alibis, and reveal communications. What is worse, the site has willingly given out information for request, which is an offense against privacy rights. Naturally, it can be an effective tool to catch criminals, what is a positive thing, but it is not so simple, they can cause harm to innocent people with that method.
The issues mentioned above are just a few alarming examples, unfortunately there are more of them. However, I strongly believe that there must be a solution for rolling back the abuse of information. There is an instance which might work: the recently established ’Europe vs Facebook’ organisation’s main aim is to restrict the misuse of data, and give the right of controlling the info to the people whom it actually belongs to.
To sum up, the purpose of the article would be to voice my concerns about a suspicious tendency concerning the handling of personal information on Facebook, but to tell the truth, I think the site’s popularity is not an accident. It is designed to entertain, to connect people very efficiently, and so it does. If the issue mentioned above would be solved, it would be a social networking site which is close to perfect.