OPINION: Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used the company's annual Silicon Valley confab to announce that "the future is private."
In one of the most difficult moments I've ever watched video, he smiled broadly as he tried to speculate on the supposed change of direction.
"I know we don't exactly have the strongest reputation for privacy right now, to put it lightly," he said.
No Zuck, you don't. Facebook faces more than a dozen international surveys in its history of privacy violations, Wired Magazine has reported ̵
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Zuckerberg seemed to believe his lame line would get some good-natured guffaws. The crowd of technophiles, however, did not find it fun. The reaction was painless with a few cringe-induced clays.
"Pivot to privacy" is simply not credible.
"At privacy, I would suggest what Facebook does is more about PR," said venture capitalist Roger McNamee to Hanna Kozlowska of Quartz. "It has tried to give a positive spin on something they do for business reasons, and that would have done anyway."
The new privacy guard involves partly joining Facebook's various messaging apps, so that messages to disappear more easily, use encryption and change communication to smaller groups. Zuckerberg described the latter as moving from "a square" to "the digital equivalent of the living room."
Here's the problem: These changes are just tinkering around the edges.
After all, Facebook's business model is built on the opposite side of privacy. It mainly gathers user data so advertisers can target their marketing most effectively.
Although it cloyingly describes itself as a place for people to connect, Facebook in its dark heart is all about selling its own users to advertisers.
These privacy changes don't take any of it, said McNamee, a former Zuckerberg advisor and the author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe .
Of course, Facebook has a number of other problems. Because of its enormous reach, it should recognize itself as a great media company – one who needs to accept responsibility for that role. Facebook took a step in that direction last week by banning hatemongers like Alex Jones of Infowars from the platform.
Regardless of Facebook, there is a financial behemoth, with a market value of over $ 560 billion (NZ $ 845 billion). It is amazing growth for something that started 15 years ago in the Zuckerberg Harvard dormitory.
Currently, Facebook is facing a potential US $ 5b from the Federal Trade Commission to abuse the user's data in the scandal with Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm working for President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, and accessing user data. (It would be a record score from the FTC, but far from devastating for the company, given the depth of the pockets.)
Part of that settlement will involve setting up positions with the company to monitor the user's privacy. 19659002] And who will be the top compliance officer?
Absolutely enough, it may end up being Zuckerberg himself, Politico reported last week – the very definition of a conflict of interest.
While government controllers all over the world are struggling to do, and while Facebook is cutting its promises in the platitudes, users will be wise to turn elsewhere for protection:
Quit Facebook is a viable alternative. Celebrities such as Cher and Elon Musk and technical journalists, including Walt Mossberg, have announced that they went away as part of the # DeleteFacebook movement.
Many noncelebrities have followed, but it has not done much of a belly. The social network (which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp) still has 2 billion users worldwide who find it personally useful or necessary for business purposes.
In short, there are many that users can do to limit the company's relentless data suction.
One example: By manipulating Facebook's privacy settings, you can stop the phone app from constantly tracking your moves and storing this information for years. (Yes, this even happens when you are not actively using the program.)
But you can't achieve it on Facebook's website, noted Todd Haselton from CNBC last week, offering a step-by-step guide to manually turning it off using the phone app .
It's worth checking. I thought I had already followed all the precautions, but I managed to take it a step further and delete my entire location history. It is mildly comforting to know that it is now where it belongs: in the digital vacuum cleaner.
Facebook users who choose not to stop rinsing owe themselves to take these protective measures.
Because so far, governments around the world have not figured out what to do with this gang of digital pirates.
And Facebook – despite the sharp pivot to privacy – can't trust the police themselves.