The EU vs Facebook

When I decided to quit Facebook one of the reasons I gave was that a mate who works in IT alluded to how much data Facebook was collecting on users. Well it appears it is an awful lot, regardless of how tight you have your security buttoned down. All that does is stop random strangers looking at your most intimate details, it doesn’t stop Facebook. Have a look at this article from The Daily Telegraph in the UK. If you read right down the bottom you will see that ‘the sheer volume of personal data accumulated by the company was hinted at earlier this year when a 24-year-old Austrian student, Max Schrems, asked it what information it held on him. The request led to the site sending him a CD containing 1,222 pages of data. He complained to data watchdogs because the disclosures were incomplete and made clear the social networking site retained further information about him which it had not handed over. ”

F*&k me, 1222 pages and that’s still not all!

But the giste of article is that the European Union is cracking down on Facebook doing this without telling you. They are trying to bring privacy laws up-to-date with technology. Which I think is right. I don’t have any problem with Facebook collecting as much information about you as they like, as long as they tell you what they are collecting and how it is going to be used. And they tell you clearly  and make it easy for you to opt out.

Just to give you the heads-up, according the article “the information analysed and stored by the company is not limited to users’ personal details, and “likes” and “dislikes” that they input on their “walls”. The firm also gathers details about their friends, family and educational background and detects subtle changes to their lifestyle, enabling it, for example, to target a bride-to-be with advertising for wedding photographers. Other commercially valuable information, such as what music people are listening to via the site, is also available to advertisers. Everything people share with their friends on Facebook is being tracked by the firm, retained, and can be used for commercial purposes. It can even harvest information by performing keyword searches on behalf of advertisers. In this way, it can find out, for instance, details about people’s political beliefs or their sexual preferences. Facebook stores messages and “chats” sent via the site and keeps them on its database even after they are deleted by those involved in the private online conversations.”

I know I  have said it before but I am still amused that we are happy to let a corporation, whose sole reason for collecting this information is to make money from it, get away with this but we go ape-shit when the Government wants to know how many people live in an area so they can do sinister things like plan for schools, medical care etc.:-) When did we all decide that big corporations have our best interests at heart and government is our enemy? Didn’t WorldCom, Enron and the Global Financial Crisis teach us anything? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think corporations are all evil but I also don’t lose sight of the fact that they aren’t here to look after mine, or the community in general’s, best interests either. They exist for one thing, and that is to make money.

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