Zuckerberg Testimony Doesn't Change Our View on Facebook

Image source Brian Solis via Flickr

Image source Brian Solis via Flickr

The company brings in $40 billion in advertising revenue annually because it offers brands data that gives them an unparalleled ability to target consumers. That problem stems from the company's unprecedented and largely unchallenged market reach. Facebook responds with periodic redesigns that often reset people to "sharing" their data with advertisers by default.

Although much of the current worldwide discussion about internet privacy is focused on Facebook's recently publicized policies and failures, the Gallup poll also found a greater number of Google users are concerned about their protecting their privacy when using the platform-35 percent are "very concerned", a 10-point jump from 2011.

Zuckerberg, the man who founded Facebook just 14 years ago, was questioned by U.S. Senate and House of Representatives committees over two days this week.

Zuckerberg couldn't name a single competitor. Some of the discussion in Washington was pointing to the monopoly Facebook has which could be the biggest factor in determining how forgiving users will be.

"This is their information, they own it", he added. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some panelists used the free format comment section to point out that they will use Facebook to look at what people post without engaging with the content.

The company's data collection practices are a huge focus of the current debate-and the scandal that led to Zuckerberg's appearance in Congress. Stressing that there is an online propaganda "arms race" with Russian Federation and it was important to make sure no one interferes in any more elections including in India, Zuckerberg told Congress that his own personal data was "improperly shared". And all of a sudden I start receiving advertisements for chocolate.

"I could use that information in order to send them ads suggesting that they could vote online - something that happened in the USA presidential election - in order to discourage those people from actually going to a polling place and casting a ballot". FaceMash was quickly taken down and prompted Harvard to call Zuckerberg in front of a disciplinary panel.

Zuckerberg also repeatedly and recklessly sought to conflate the ability of Facebook users to control who sees the information they post on Facebook and their relative inability to control what data Facebook collects about them.

Facebook has since shut off the ability of apps to gather such data, but Mr Zuckerberg said it would take "many months" to complete an audit of other apps to determine if they also improperly used data. Seeing my astonishment, one of them said "We don't expect a married guy like you to appreciate this, but in Cambridge all the party invitations come via Facebook, so if you're not on Facebook you go to no parties, you meet no girls, you have no sex, so you have no kids and your genes die out".

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