Facebook didn’t like this as it generates significant revenue (perhaps all of it) through ads and personalized marketing for businesses. This leads to tracking your activities throughout the device for a personalized experience.
While it claims to help SMEs worldwide, privacy lapses and data theft are no new blame on Mark’s web-based social platform.
Facebook and privacy lapses: An inseparable bond
This isn’t the first time. Facebook has been making the headlines for its breach of user privacy and data. The leading social media platform has been leading the list of privacy lapses since its inception in 2004. Though covering each of them will do an entire thesis, we’ll try to cover some of the initial lapses and Facebook’s reaction to them.
Let’s have a look at some of the significant privacy concerns raised from time to time.
Facebook had over 8 million users when it introduced the News Feed. While today we love the feature, at that time, it faced a lot of criticism. Over a million users found the feature intrusive and joined the protest. However, the team managed to settle it down by asking the users to relax.
This was the first time users found Facebook making some severe breach in their personal space by introducing Beacon. Facebook Beacon created a lot of controversies soon after its release. The primary reason behind disruption was, once again, privacy. The objection soon made Zuckerburg release a public apology.
This was when Facebook was in talks with the Federal Trade Commission regarding its privacy and advertising policy.
The social media platform finally agreed to go through independent privacy evaluation every year for the next two decades.
Sharing the judgment, the chairman of FTC, Jon Leibowitz, said, “Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users. There’s no point in entertaining the innovation at the cost of privacy and online security of millions of users.”
Besides the independent evaluation, Facebook signed an agreement that made it liable to a $16,000 penalty/day.
A bug exposed the private contact info of users. A White Hat hacker reported the bug. Facebook instantly took action by fixing it and notifying users whose contact information might have got exposed. Not just this, they also notified regulators to ensure not getting into a bigger mess. Perhaps as big as the users whose info got compromised.
In the year, Facebook conducted a Mood Manipulation experiment on more than half a million users. The experiment, conducted by Facebook’s Data Scientist, Adam K.I. Kramer started an outrage after the results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
He had to apologize instantly, and four years later, Facebook even took off the results.
Since then, not one or two, every year, numerous concerns have been raised by different countries across the globe. The social media platform had to step further to clarify.
Refining the data collection process: Facebook & WhatsApp since 2014
By the time these claims were getting settled, Facebook had purchased WhatsApp for $19 Billion. It didn’t take long for people to connect this acquisition with the social channels’ habit of collecting user data. The messaging app soon assured users through a blog post.
The commitment to keep users’ privacy secured seemed to fade two years after the acquisition. In 2016, WhatsApp, by default, began sharing user data with Facebook. However, they retained the opt-out option for users. The users were allowed to do this within 30 days of accepting the revised policy.
Coming to the present
“As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information (see here) with the other Facebook Companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products.”
However, this policy offers some relief to the European region, as privacy legislation is more robust than in any other country.
What can users do?
The revised policy took the web by storm. The wealthiest man on the planet, Elon Musk, too, couldn’t refrain from commenting on this. He tweeted.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
His tweet soon went viral, and Signal App started noticing a sudden surge in new signups. So much that it tweeted from its official handle;
Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now (we can barely register our excitement). We are working with carriers to resolve this as quickly as possible. Hang in there.
— Signal (@signalapp) January 7, 2021
Since then, it didn’t leave any stone unturned to ensure that it misses not a fraction of this sudden attention. Numerous other platforms like WhatsApp too dropped in to share their security and privacy protocols.
Whether to keep or ditch WhatsApp?
This bold step undoubtedly displays Facebook’s apprehensions about the possible plunge in revenue due to Apple’s privacy updates. Leveraging WhatsApp’s extensive reach, the social media platform strives to secure its stance.
However, several messaging applications are available with a more secure ecosystem. It is now on users to decide whether they want to switch to a new platform or continue with the current policy.
There may be a possibility where looking at the surge in other apps, WhatsApp callbacks some decisions.
What are your views on this?
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