When you look at Mark Zuckerberg, you may dismiss him as the genius who invented a brilliant and fun play toy. Well, Facebook is all about fun, and it is brilliantly designed to connect you with family, friends, brands, celebrities, and news outlets among other things.
However, Facebook is also a big harvester of your data. It knows who you are sleeping with, you are cheating with, who you conduct illegal business with, who you are spying on… Well, there are positive examples, but who are we kidding the negatives are just more dramatic, right!
The point is, Facebook is a funnel for all your data, both the dirt and the good ones. That said, Robert Hannigan, the former head of GCHQ while speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today, said that Facebook was not a “fluffy charity” giving free services to users.
Facebook is trying to “squeeze every drop of profit” out of your personal data. Hannigan is also skeptical that Facebook, and other tech giants, would reform on their own without new laws being put in place compelling them to do so.
The former intelligence chief was asked whether he thought Facebook was a threat to democracy, and he replied, “Potentially yes, I think it is if it isn’t controlled and regulated. Frankly, some Facebook executives have conceded that it needs regulation.”
But these big companies, particularly where they are monopolies, can’t frankly reform themselves. It will have to come from outside. The EU is already talking about doing it, and I’m sure others will follow.”
Last week, on Wednesday, a select committee of Britain’s House of Commons published over 200 pages of internal documents at Facebook. The documents included emails in which key staff offering special deals to some developers – including Airbnb and Netflix – to gain special access to Facebook user’s friends’ data. That is even though a restriction was introduced against that in 2015.
Though Facebook responded by saying that the published documents only tell just “one side of the story.”
In the BBC Radio 4’s Today, Hannigan said, “This isn’t a kind of fluffy charity providing free services. It is a very hard-headed international business, and these big tech companies are essentially the world’s biggest global advertisers, that’s where they make their billions.
So, in return for the service that you find useful, they take your data, and as these emails show, they squeeze every drop of profit out of it. And the incentives to make profit out of your data are far greater than the incentives to protect your privacy.”