Award Winning Blog

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I Won’t Get Over the Loss of Privacy Expectations

            Long ago, the CEO of computer manufacturer Sun Microsystems concluded that consumer privacy was a “red herring,” because one has “zero privacy anyway.” See  Scott McNealy suggested that we simply “[g]et over it.”

            No, I will not.

            Few subscribers of social media fully understand—or even partially understand—what extensive privacy intrusions one has to accept in exchange for the privilege of participating.  Trust me (no pun intended), we give up much, but not everything.  For example, one’s agreement to participate in a personality survey does not grant they surveying party the option of mining all the available data from all of survey taker’s friends.

            Shame on the survey taker, but greater shame on Facebook for doing nothing about this egregious expropriation of subscriber data.  Facebook likes to move quickly and break things. In its lust for revenue, its managers apparently think nothing of instances where major things get busted.

            The court of public opinion, the stock market, various government agencies and legislators throughout the world may convince social network senior executives that they better take seriously the consequences of the things they help break.  They can start with a risk assessment about whether significant subscribers will lose trust.

            Apparently, Facebook senior management thinks this latest episode will blow over in a few days.  Perhaps, but I trust the instincts of my wife who intends on deleting her account.

            Social networks exploit subscribers’ trust that the mined data has reasonable uses and reach.  Facebook has unclean hands when it facilitates the commercial exploitation of private information about which the subscriber has not consented to such use.