June 01, 2018
A few weeks ago, news reports were dominated by the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Countless articles appeared offering tips on “how to delete your Facebook account.” I even noticed a slight drop in the number of my friends on the platform and I started wondering whether I, too, should delete my account. As I wanted to fully understand the issue, I did some additional research, listened to Mark Zuckerberg’s surprisingly entertaining testimony in Congress and identified various pros and cons. I was able to shortlist a few good reasons why one should consider deleting their Facebook account:
- Facebook just really annoys you. You feel like you’re spending too much time scrolling through the newsfeed full of cat videos and trivial updates from friends on their lunch choices
- Speaking of friends, you’ve noticed that you’re no longer using Facebook to connect with them. Your friends list is full of acquaintances you haven’t spoken to in a decade
- You’re done with the Internet. You’re swearing it off as a whole. You want to be completely offline, deleting all your accounts and possible digital breadcrumbs from Google, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, Amazon, etc.
- Because Cher and Elon Musk did it
While the content on Facebook does annoy me sometimes, the platform helps me stay in touch with my family and friends who live far away. I also humbly admit that I’ve clicked on some of the targeted adds, almost bought luxurious bed linen and took part in ‘how well do you know Star Wars’ type of quizzes. Data privacy debate is definitely serious and has raised a few real red flags, however, some of the arguments the #deletefacebook proponents are presenting are simply inaccurate and are not good enough reasons to delete the platform.
Contrary to common belief, Facebook doesn’t sell users’ data and is not reading your WhatsApp messages. Most importantly, it’s not only Facebook’s responsibility to protect our data. We should be prepared and a similar scandal could easily occur soon if the industry, regulators and users stick to the status quo. We all have a role to play:
- Users need to start reading ‘Terms & Conditions’ before pressing the accept button, ask questions if they’re not sure how their data is used and reviewing which of their information is being shared with third-party applications.
- Transparency and trust soon will become new competitive differentiators. Companies need to be clearer about how they use consumer data and show an interest in minimizing the risks.
- Regulators need to revisit current laws and address digital privacy-related issues. The implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation on May 25th is a step forward and, I hope, we’ll see more countries pushing similar laws and companies across the world to comply with new rules.
I believe the recent scandal served as a wake-up call and building a culture of transparency and trust will help put an end to this ethics crisis. After all, it’s not the first time that a great invention developed for the greater good was used for evil.