Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Facing up to the Inevitable

Just fancy that. Facebook is under investigation for passing on the personal data of its users to a data analysis company, Cambridge Analytica, who may have used the results to assist in political campaigns, including that of D. Trump recently. This is the outfit [Facebook, not the data analysis people: Ed] who, if I recall rightly, used to claim that any photographs uploaded to their servers became their copyright. Users don't pay anything to store data or to exchange messages with friends on Facebook. These two facts alone ought to be sufficient to make it clear that it is very much caveat emptor when dealing with tech firms. Consider the Facebook terms and conditions. Have you ever read them? If you did and you disagreed with any, can you negotiate with the firm to have them changed? Obviously not.

The funny thing is that there is, inevitably a "backlash" on social media (which largely takes the form of people relaying messages with the same hashtag in). But they use other forms of social media to send these messages. If they cease using Facebook they will use something else which they don't pay for. Naturally the owners of these sites will seek to monetise the data that they are accumulating, no matter how many fine promises and mission statements they may publicise.

Moral: Don't put your personal data online. Or if you do, be aware of what it is and how it may used.

Oh, by the way, nothing in this piece should in any way be taken to suggest that Facebook might have done anything wrong. We totally deny that allegation absolutely. It must surely be the most amazing coincidence of all time that "forensic auditors" employed by Facebook were at work in the offices of Cambridge Analytica just when it would certainly have been convenient if the data that Facebook supplied could all be deleted before any Government investigators could get a look in.

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