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Hey Mark Zuckerberg: Don't Lock Down Everyone's Data, Open It Up To Services That Give Your Users More Control Over Their Data

from the there-are-other-solutions dept

As we’ve been discussing all week, a lot of people are reacting to the wrong thing in the whole Facebook / Cambridge Analytica mess. The problem was not that Facebook had an open API — but that its users were unaware of what was happening with their own data. Unfortunately, many, many people (including the press and politicians) are running with the narrative that Facebook failed to “protect” data. And, just as we warned, the coming “solutions” won’t help matters, but will actually make them worse.

Case in point: when Mark Zuckerberg finally made his big press tour on Wednesday evening, he repeatedly told people that, the public has spoken and Facebook will lock down your data now.

I do think early on on the platform we had this very idealistic vision around how data portability would allow all these different new experiences, and I think the feedback that we?ve gotten from our community and from the world is that privacy and having the data locked down is more important to people than maybe making it easier to bring more data and have different kinds of experiences.

This is the wrong solution for two reasons: (1) It makes Facebook that much more central and dominant to online activities, making it that much more difficult for upstarts and competitors to compete and (2) it takes away power from the end users to do more with their own data. For all the people whining about Facebook having too much of your data, this is not the solution you want. This is effectively giving Facebook even more power over your data, not less.

If people were to take the time to actually understand the issue, then they wouldn’t be pressuring Facebook to react this way. And there are better solutions: give people more access to their own data. That means, as Cory Doctorow suggested, the better way out is for Facebook to open itself up in a different way: to open itself up to third party app developers not to suck up data for marketing databases, but to give end users more control over their own data and how it is used.

People are so focused on Facebook sucking up their data, that they’re responding by demanding Facebook be a better steward of their data… rather than demanding that they get to manage their own data.

Nearly a decade ago, EFF suggested a social media bill of rights that it hoped sites like Facebook would adopt. It included giving users transparency into who wants their data and who gets it, giving users full control over their data, and finally enabling them to export their data in a useable format to bring to other sites on their own terms. If we lived in such a world, then we wouldn’t have to worry about the Cambridge Analytica situation, because users would know that some creepy personality test app was requesting their info, and they could deny it (or they could set filters that would automatically block it).

So, if Mark Zuckerberg really wants to respond to this crisis in a way that’s helpful, he should be opening up his platform… to a different set of app developers. It shouldn’t go to the developers who are siphoning up everyone’s data, but to those who can provide tools for end users to have full transparency and control over their data.

Unfortunately, the political and media reality is that if Zuckerberg actually went down this path, he’d probably be slammed for “opening up” user data, rather than locking it down.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: cambridge analytica, facebook

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Comments on “Hey Mark Zuckerberg: Don't Lock Down Everyone's Data, Open It Up To Services That Give Your Users More Control Over Their Data”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ANOTHER Zombie Attack! Mere 2 year 9 month gap back in 2010.

Then after year and half one comment in 2017! Only 8 months to here.

This one TOO goes back to 2010, averaging all of 2 comments per year.

Another blandly supportive of site, and sounds a lot like Geigner…


Anyone remember the fake women on Ashley-Madison? And yet after the seven examples with 6 year gaps I’ve found not believe that this site astro-turfs?

If the stragety now is to surface more of these to make look “normal”, I welcome it! Will still hoot every one I notice.

Anonymous Coward says:

The companies making money from this business model will never willingly give people meaningful tools to see, correct, delete, and prevent future collection & dissemination of this data. The closer they get to just asking for it rather than secretly or deceptively collecting it, the less likely people will be OK with providing it.

A lot of people would be horrified if they knew the amount of information that has been collected and shared about them, not just by Facebook but by every major website and every two-bit metrics, advertising, and hosting company whose beacons are all over the web. Even seemingly anonymous activity is easy to correlate and link to a household if not a particular individual. But most people only focus on what’s right in front of them…”so what if they know X, what are they going to possibly do with that? they just want to sell me stuff, I still decide what to spend my money on, and besides, I really really really want to take that quiz that tells me which Sex And The City character I am.”

The simple test for the acceptability of any kind of surveillance should be whether you would hand over all this information if they came to you door every day and simply asked for it and told you that you would have no control over what they do with it, nor would they even really tell you who “they” are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Similar to your credit score, FB should allow the viewing and dispute of whatever they store on you.

If you have a Facebook account, then I understand that you can go to your Facebook settings, and click ‘Download a copy of your data’. They’ll email you a zip.

This is second-hand info, ’cause I’ve never had a FB account, and can’t try it myself.

Anonymous Coward says:

“privacy and having the data locked down is more important to people than maybe making it easier to bring more data and have different kinds of experiences. “

Oh – I don’t know …. maybe at least a few people are more concerned that FB has that data in the first place, data they do not want you to know they have on you and are selling to ???

Anonymous Coward says:

“So, if Mark Zuckerberg really wants to respond to this crisis in a way that’s helpful, he should be opening up his platform […]”

Zuckerberg is only interested in one thing: Zuckerberg. All these mea culpas are bullshit. All his posturing is an act. All these changes are designed to reinforce Facebook’s power and grip on users’ data.

Stop expecting him to act like anything other than what he is: a sociopathic, greedy narcissist. He’s not an innovator or a lead or a visionary: he’s just a worthless fucking asshole.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not just FB users. Id you are in a users email list they. track you too.

I use no script and the number of sites that are using FB, Google, Twitter is huge.

They need to either stop the data mining altogether or allow EVERYONE to see and manage the data they have collected.

/Yes I have FB et al on not trusted for the default setting

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