Christian Stewart is a privacy researcher and reporter. Follow his latest coverage on YouTube.
You’re likely going through a stressful time right now, as your company falls under fire from many different angles over its use of my data. Facebook, the company you created, now has more users (~2.1 billion) than there are people in China (~1.4 billion), the largest country in the world.
You have the ability to reach all of these users with whatever message you’d like them to see, whenever you want them to see it. You control the way billions of people get their news and information, you have immense influence over the connected world.
“Facebook has gotten too big for Mark Zuckerberg”
“Mark Zuckerberg is not comfortable with the enormous influence he has over the world.” — CNN Money
Yo, Mark. Here’s the deal, you’re leading one of the largest companies in the world. You’re impacting the lives of all 2 billion Facebook users. You’ve risen to the highest ranks of power in the world, and you have a huge responsibility to use that power nobly and honestly. So far your company has failed to do so, it has repeatedly mislead people to believe that the information your company gathers is to help make the product better for them. However, after recent news it appears that Facebook is focused on making the product more profitable for itself.
Your position, as CEO of Facebook, is like being the leader of a global superpower, spread over the world, spread across demographics, economic situations, and geographic locations. You are leading your followers (or Facebook friends), but where are you taking them? Right now both you and they are unsure of where the platform is headed. You’ve betrayed your friends, by allowing their data to be compromised on Facebook. What are you doing to regain their trust? Fortunately for you, users have been given so little power to this point, that they can’t switch up their use of Facebook to benefit them. This means that in order to assure their data’s privacy and security, they need to delete their accounts and completely leave your social network. Most people aren’t willing to do this, because Facebook has become something they use every day.
Apple, a company that has consistently been big on privacy, is outspoken about the importance of privacy. Could Apple be more profitable if they opted to collect and use its users’ data for advertising and other purposes? Most certainly.
“Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly” according to Steve Jobs, in this 2010 interview.
There is great value in privacy, both for the company and the consumer. Apple hasn’t gone through this negative media frenzy that Facebook is seeing right now. They have actually seen the opposite, privacy advocates supported Apple for standing up to the FBI and refusing to crack an iPhone involved in a terrorism case.
Of course, Facebook runs on a completely different business model than Apple. It’s completely naive to assume that Facebook could exist in its current form without collecting user data, and Facebook is certainly not the only privacy villain on the internet. Facebook collects all kinds of information, but it has a very important portion of our data, that very few companies have access to: our relationships.
According to Jean-Louis Gassée, Mark Zuckerberg thinks we’re idiots. I’m not sure that the case, but the world’s relationship with the King of Social Media needs to change.
Privacy on the biggest social network in the world is not just possible, it’s essential for its survival. People will trust it, and keep using it. Otherwise, Facebook may be in for a long, brutal downfall.
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