OPINION: Facebook's Privacy Problems Are No Surprise
It's hard to believe anyone is surprised by the latest revelations surrounding Facebook and personal information.
In case you missed it, Facebook founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg admitted the data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica – hired to work with the Trump 2016 campaign — improperly acquired tens of millions of user's personal data.
Facebook and other social media platforms are not free. Sure, you don't have to pay to use it, but the "price" is hidden deep inside those disclosure statements you blindly click "I agree" on when you sign up. You allow these sites — and anyone else they authorize — unlimited access to monitor your every move (through your GPS), searches, tagged friends, check-in and status updates.
How did Zuckerberg (net worth $67 billion) turn Facebook (worth just over $500 billion) into one of the biggest U.S. owned companies? By selling this information – your information – to companies to target you with those ads on your Facebook feed. You didn't think those showed up there with no rhyme or reason, did you?
I first really understood what Facebook was doing a few years ago with our privacy when they no longer allowed you to respond to direct messages in the app anymore and made you download the Facebook Messenger app. I reluctantly downloaded the app, but I soon noticed those ads on my feed started to revolve around conversations I was having.
For instance, my wife and I were talking one night over dinner about going to North Conway for a weekend of skiing. We probably had a 10-minute conversation about it. That evening while casually scrolling through Facebook, three separate ads popped up on my feed for North Conway hotels and ski resorts.
Then there was the time I was talking to a friend of mine about his new Chevy Silverado and how I was not going to be tempted to trade mine in for a new one. That evening, the feed had nothing but 0 percent financing and cash back offers from three different Chevy dealerships.
When you install the Facebook Messenger app, you allow Facebook to take control of your phone's microphone to listen to your conversations to customize what types of advertising you're seeing.
The best advice I've given to my friends concerned about their privacy is go into your phone's settings and disable your microphone from all social media apps, as well as your GPS. Be careful of what you share and say and use the app with the understanding that it's not free. The price you're paying to use it is your privacy.
Dave Andreesen hosts "The Noon News Hour" weekdays at noon on News Talk 98.1 WTSN.