Facebook manager Mark Zuckerberg is fond of suggesting that all the criticism of his worldwide social media empire comes from either the misinformed or the evil ones. In fact, Facebook is really about protecting the privacy of users! It's the line he took in a Wednesday interview with Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain, CNBC reported.
In the interview, Zuckerberg acknowledges that Facebook's "innovator in privacy" is "absolutely not the main view", which can be characterized as surely an understatement. He argued that Facebook, which has a business model based on vacuuming as much data about its users as possible, is really making progress in providing public secure communications technologies:
"Thinking of Facebook as an innovator in privacy is probably not the one usual view, said Zuckerberg during the taped conversation, which was released on Wednesday. "But going back to the very first thing we did, so did the Harvard students to communicate in a way that they had some confidence that the content and information would be shared with only people in that community, there was no way people had to communicate things in that scale, but not have it either just completely public or just as small as it had been before. "
This is beyond ridiculous: One of Facebook's biggest controversies in the past year, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, just happened because the social media giant lets app developers reap huge amounts of data on millions of users without their knowledge or consent. The co-founder of the secure chat service and the Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp, Jan Koum, last year in connection with concerns Zuckerberg and the crew had planned to water down end-to-end encryption for more user data.
Remind otherwise, Facebook builds secret databases of the user's contact information, including things that users are never willing to hand over. It also tracks online activities for people who have logged out of their accounts and even non-users.
It distributed an app, Onavo, that it announced as a virtual private network, a type of service that apparently hides the user's web traffic from external scrutiny. Instead, Onavo monitored devices to send user information directly to Facebook. It also paid teens to install an Onavo-like app on their phones so they could track the behavior with almost unlimited permissions.
"All the success Facebook has had, this is a bit of a conflicting thing, has been because we have given people new private or semi-private ways to convey things they would not have had before," he said.
claiming that insight is "counterintuitive" is a time-consuming method that suggests that it is actually much smarter and thus threatens than another conclusion, but it does not. Facebook is successful because it sells a massive amount of online ads, a massively lucrative and growing market, Facebook's share of the US digital advertising market is expected to rise to 22.1 percent by 2019, according to AdWeek, part of a functional duopoly that it shares with Google, and has also been accused of monopolistic behavior and stealing features from launch competitors for Fuel Your Own Growth
If Facebook's success is based on privacy, it's curious that the vast majority of users have no idea how targeted advertising is. The business works, according to Pew Research Center surveys, and just over half reported being "not very or not at all comfortable" whether insight into their behavior and interests the platform had gathered.
At least it is clear that Facebook and its leaders are spooked by submissive user trust surveys – and they exploit all their best rhetorical Möbius loops and repetitive buzzwords to push the genius back into the bottle. It won't change anything, but at least they are innovative new ways to justify themselves all the time.
[Facebook via CNBC]