Fraud-book

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The most troubling takeaway from two days of congressional hearings on Facebook Inc. was this: Mark Zuckerberg didn’t want to explain how the social network operates. The Facebook CEO ducked questions from lawmakers about what types of information the company collects and how it uses the data for advertising purposes. As per reports, Zuckerberg found it hard to plainly acknowledge that Facebook tracks users from device to device, collects information on websites people visit and apps they use, gathers information on people’s physical locations, collects phone call logs from Android smartphones and pulls in some online activity from people who don’t even have Facebook accounts. Indeed the trouble for Facebook, which launched its website on February 4, 2004, is deeper today as the anger against the company is globally going epidemic. The way Facebook gained unparalleled popularity in connecting individuals, societies and communities across the globe, same way this social networking site is now losing the trust of people. In a way, this social networking site has emerged as one of the effective vehicles of disinformation campaign. This time privacy scandal, very serious in nature, has hit Facebook. Now, the growing global unrest against Facebook only reveals that people have started reconsidering their relationship status with this social networking platform. Notably, the scandal involves user data breach which influenced in some measure, the course of the 2016 US elections through a campaign of fake news and targeted advertisement on Facebook. The genesis of the fraud started in 2014, when an academic of Russian origin Aleksandr Kogan created a Facebook app which paid thousands of users to take a psychological test. The app asked the users for the personal details of their Facebook friends. Then Kogan sold the same data to Cambridge Analytica, which is a voter profiling company in US. The first breach of data happened when Kogan in contravention to the Facebook policy sold the data to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook policy does not allow use of the data collected through App for commercial purposes. Even as Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica and Kogan, the anger against the social networking site for this breach of trust is growing across countries where governments as well as users are criticising it. While having a look at the journey of Facebook, incidentally a listed US company, since its inception dating back to 2004, it has registered its unmatched spectacular way up in corporate history. We haven’t seen a company so much a part of society and so capable of brining social change in communities. Even, it has forced governments to realign their governance patterns across the globe. However, in this amazing journey, Facebook has overlooked the risk factors which are detrimental to the interests of the users. These risk factors have only got swelled up with ascent in the popularity and use of the social networking site. Now the kind of privacy scandal which has taken its users by storm, only indicates that the layers of user IDs and passwords do not guarantee protection of the data which one stores on the site. Allowing its platform, willingly or unwillingly, to be manipulated by undesirable elements and use it against systems and processes of a country, or even using it against the interests of individuals, societies, communities etc is a crime. Expressing ignorance of risk factors is no excuse and the Facebook Inc is a fit case for prosecution. However, the onus also lies on its users to teach a lesson to the social networking site. They are the sole pillars of its popularity. The users need to reassure themselves on safety front – whether their personal data is purely confidential or open to public consumption. It’s not only leaking of user-data which is worrisome. In fact, most of the content posted on the site too needs scrutiny. Over a period of time, Facebook has been used more to spread falsehood than to promote truth. This misuse of the platform has been taking individuals, societies and communities for a ride. This has also resulted in their reputational damage and simultaneously causing economical and financial loss. Indeed Facebook Inc needs to be made accountable for allowing spread of falsehood on its platform.

1 Comment

  • Reply Robert A. Silverstein April 16, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Nagaland Page has done its usual thing: criticized without suggesting positive remedies. It closes by saying that Facebook Inc. needs to be held accountable for having false information on its sites. Fine.
    But how does Nagaland Page suggest that whoever has power, in Facebook or out, decide what news is false or not. Who would you trust to make such decisions, basically one of censuring information citizens and others put on line?
    Easy to blame, hard to remedy. There are times, especially when you give any government power to censure, that the remedy is worse than the original problem.

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