Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took out full page ads in major Sunday newspapers (I’ll let the irony of that sink in for a while…Okay, ready to continue?) to apologize over the recent scandal involving unauthorized data gathering. The ad read, “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”
Almost as hard to believe as the apology (and the fact that it ran in dead-tree newspapers) is the idea that anyone was really shocked by the idea of their personal information being mined for marketing and advertising uses by social media sites. It has to be because this particular company did business with the Trump campaign, since Facebook hardly made it a secret that they were giddy to use their databases to help Obama and Hillary.
The entire business model of social media sites is that they give people a “free” platform to talk about themselves, and the site makes money selling their information and attention to marketers. Sure, it stinks that the specific privacy violation wasn’t spelled out in the terms of service agreement, but how many people actually read it - or for that matter, read any TOS agreement - before clicking “Accept”?
If Facebook, Twitter, Google (owner of YouTube) and other tech giants really want to convince me that they are ready to be responsible, then make terms of service agreements shorter and clearer, and start highlighting the most important aspects, such as loss of privacy, right up front. Also, how about respecting free speech instead of promoting liberal speech and censoring and demonetizing conservative speech? Stop using biased leftwing sources such as the Southern Poverty Law Center to smear people and organizations as racist or “fake news” and barring them from the Internet.
Zuckerberg has already opened himself up to the possibility of government regulation. Is it going to take some Teddy Roosevelt-level trustbusting to restore trust in the tech giants that they aren’t micromanaging the free flow of information for their own partisan political ends?
I guess we’ll find out. If they censor this post, I’ll let you know via an ad in the Penny Saver or by carrier pigeon.