Disclaimer: I don’t know how many of us would take the below warning seriously but I urge everyone to at least read Mark Zuckerberg’s post and think seriously about what we share on Facebook.
Let me tell this straight at the get go: the way Facebook uses our data is tremendously dangerous not because that it makes money out of our profile info, status updates, likes and dislikes, or photos, but because of how it actually sells our information to use it against us as weapon. If you haven’t heard about the “Cambridge Analytica” fiasco yet, read it directly from Mark Zuckerberg’s post that I have shared here. That company has collected data not only from the users who have used their app on Facebook to participate in a survey but also it collected detail information about the friends of those users - in total 50 million Facebook users in the USA. Then that company used all that information to create algorithms to target those Facebook users to influence their opinion towards a particular candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election in the USA. The name of that candidate is, now the President of the USA, Donald Trump. Trump campaign hired the Cambridge Analytica company to influence the election vote. I can safely assume that Hilary Clinton campaign had taken the similar tactic may be with some other company. If you are still thinking how this is different than the other tactics of election campaigning, let me explain briefly: think about trapping a mouse. If we know that the mouse likes a certain food, goes to a certain place at certain time for hanging around, etc. then we can place the trap at that place precisely and then throw some of its favorite food outside of the trap and inside and the wait for it to be trapped. Similarly, the company knows what I like, what I hate, where I go, what I wear, etc. and then create a trap (in computer world we call it Algorithm) to drag me wherever they want me to take, whatever they want me to believe, and finally, whatever they would like me to vote. By the way, this is not confined to only elections but it’s true for anything related to influencing our opinion regarding the world surrounding us. This kind of tactic to manipulate the psychology of mass population was always there in the history of mankind: in the past it was through books, newspaper, movies, television, etc. but the Internet and social media has converted that same tactic into a massive scale. Just to give a comparison, If the older tactics were using bow and arrow to target people, the social media and Internet is using nuclear bomb to mass target people.
On the Facebook, it lures us to provide more and more information about ourselves. It is capturing the information, most recently, in the form of various questions that are not only about my current state but also it’s tapping into my future wishes, unfulfilled dreams, my fantasies, and what not. We are providing those information willfully and handing over Facebook even more information to target ourselves to sell new product, manipulate our future needs and wants, and if I dare to say: manipulate our purpose of life. We all are doing those by Facebook’s (and all social network platforms) coercion tool: peer pressure. However, we are thinking that we are giving up those information at our wills- voluntarily.
Finally, to be very clear about the core message of this post: I am no way asking to stop using Facebook or as a matter of fact, other social networking platform or the Internet but I am urging everyone to be conscious about what we are sharing and how we are being targeted to manipulation by all these giant tech companies. At my current work, I have started to use Big Data and Machine Learning which has given me more insight into how powerful this Artificial Intelligence and Bog Data technologies can be.
Here’s I am sharing Mark Zuckerberg’s one status update where he apologizes to the world about the massive data breach about the Cambridge Analytica debacle.