by Sherif Badr
Yesterday the world watched as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled about the data breaches possible by companies like Cambridge Analytica that essentially helped Donald Trump get elected. The questioning actually is still going on today:
Watching from Canada is a particularly unique position to be in. While we do not face the same political repercussions, we use the Facebook platform. Actually approximately 19 million Canadians use Facebook. And, we all use Facebook under the impression that our data is safe, that we generally have control over who sees our posts, and that are not being taken advantage of. However, with all of the 67 acquisitions Facebook has made like WhatsApp and Instagram, if they were to connect all that information across such platforms they pretty much know a lot about the average millenial. Facebook is even turning their attention to children with Messenger Kids, despite knowing that kids are negatively affected by using social media too early, especially in areas like maintaining attention. With face recognition on the rise, and automatic cars coming from Tesla, are we ready for a world straight out of a sci-fi movie like Minority Report?
Not all of the questions were great yesterday but some were decent. Had the congress people been a bit younger, perhaps the line of questioning would've been better, but none the less, here are some of the best questions (paraphrased) to me:
1. Would you be willing to share the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?
- this got to the core of what this is all about, outside of swaying elections: privacy
2. "young kids are not ready to handle social media accounts age 6... you started Messenger Kids. What guarantee can you give that information about kids won't be used?"
- this question also subtly attacked Facebook's lack or morality, putting kids in danger, while asking about child data.
3. Facebook's mantra used to be "move fast and break things." Do you think some of the mistakes made around data are result of that thinking?
4. Is Facebook neutral or does it hold political sentiment? Does it have a political bias?
- Facebook's blocked Fox News and over 2 dozen catholic pages, and other pages
5. "it's not enough to connect people. We have to make sure those connections are good" is something you've said. How do you determine who or what connections are "good"? Do you screen the political viewpoints of the people that will be making these decisions?
6. Do you have a monopoly on the social media game? If I buy a bad car, there are other car companies I can go with. If I don't like Facebook, what is the alternative?
7. Facebook is free so how do you sustain a business that's free?
- "we run ads" was the response.
If advertisers could flash their brand over your visual display while you're on the toilet, they would. If the price is right, how much data will companies like Facebook be willing to give?