© Jan Sebera | Dreamstime.com

WRECKER: Congress - Don’t Go Soft On Facebook

Ryan Wrecker
April 09, 2018 - 10:00 am

Facebook screwed up.  Big time.

If selling data or allowing third parties to breach their network is show deemed lawful, it’s certainly a breach of trust with its billions of users.  They won’t forgive and forget as easily.  But this is just the start of the biggest problem I have with data collection and the massive headaches it will cause in the future. 

First, let me start by saying that the Equifax breach is much worse than the Facebook one.  Equifax was on the receiving end of personal and very private data (like social security numbers), were hacked and didn’t report or fix the problem immediately.  It was also reported three of the Equifax top executives sold stock in the company days after the breach, but news of the hack wasn’t made public for months.  However congress gave them nothing more than a slap on the wrist and failed to make the punishment fit the crime.  You’ll have the uncertainty of knowing if your identity will be stolen at any time in your life thanks to Equifax.  They should have been buried as a company. 

But on to Facebook.

The sheer bulk of data that Facebook has on you is scary.  But for the most part you voluntarily shared that information.  The worst part is the data you didn’t share publically.  They were looking into your private messages, collecting what you typed into search engines, storing your address book and profiling you for their sketchy purposes.   When that information was sold it meant they were sharing it with the world. 

No longer were they finding ways to advertise to you.  They were allowing anyone and everyone to exploit your personal preferences. 

Companies have the ability to connect all of that connected information.  What if your medical insurance provider now knows what you’re searching on the internet and uses it as a way to deny coverage?  What if your employer can find out in a private message what you really think about them and use it as a way to fire you?  What if the government uses it as a way to connect you to a crime?

What really happened when Facebook put a price on your personal information is that they found out there’s value in their collection.  It will always be used against you. 

If you learn any lesson from this, please let it be to restrict any personal information you share in any on-line setting, especially if it’s publicly visible.  Also, if someone asks you for information, as minor as it is, don’t feel you’re obligated to answer.  When stores ask for your phone number or e-mail address, just say NO.

This is only the start of a life-long headache. Congress needs to treat this seriously and not let them get off with a warning.