Facebook breaches privacy and trust again

Facebook can be a useful way of keeping in touch – I have been involved in a group that has brought wider family together online after little communication previously – but another revelation  of breach of privacy adds concerns about using Facebook.

Guardian: Is 2019 the year you should finally quit Facebook?

Prepare yourself for an overwhelming sense of deja vu: another Facebookprivacy “scandal” is upon us.

A New York Times investigation has found that Facebook gave Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) the ability to read, write and delete users’ private messages. The Times investigation, based on hundreds of pages of internal Facebook documents, also found that Facebook gave 150 partners more access to user data than previously disclosed. Microsoft, Sony and Amazon, for example, could obtain the contact information of their users’ friends.

Netflix, Spotify and RBC have all denied doing anything nefarious with your private messages. Netflix tweeted that it never asked for the ability to look at them; Spotify says it had no idea it had that sort of access; RBC disputes it even had the ability to see users’ messages. Whether they accessed your information or not, however, is not the point. The point is that Facebook should never have given them this ability without getting your explicit permission to do so.

In a tone-deaf response to the Times investigation, the tech giant explained: “None of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC.” Perhaps not, but they did violate public trust.

This just reinforces warnings about use of anything online – treat it as if anything you say or post could be public.

One of the problems with Facebook is that it is difficult if not impossible to know what others see of what we post. We simply don’t know what Facebook shows or makes available to others, and they have shown time and again that they can’t be trusted.

Facebook (and other websites) give us a lot, but take a lot from us collectively, and put their own commercial interests first.

The Times’ new report caps off a very bad year for Facebook when it comes to public trust. Let’s just recap a few of the bigger stories, shall we?

  • March: The Observer reveals that Cambridge Analytica harvested the dataof millions of Facebook users without their consent for political purposes. It is also revealed that Facebook had been keeping records of Android users’ phone calls and texts.
  • April: It was revealed that Facebook was in secret talks with hospitals to get them to share patients’ private medical data.
  • September: Hackers gained access to around 30m Facebook accounts.
  • November: Facebook acknowledges it didn’t do enough to stop its platform being as a tool to incite genocidal violence in Myanmar. A New York Times report reveals the company hired a PR firm to try and discredit critics by claiming they were agents of George Soros.
  • December: Facebook admitted it exposed private photos from 68 million users to apps that weren’t authorized to view your photos. (You can check if you were affected via this Facebook link.)

If you’re still on Facebook after everything has happened this year, you need to ask yourself why. Is the value you get from the platform really worth giving up all your data for? More broadly, are you comfortable being part of the reason that Facebook is becoming so dangerously powerful?

In March, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook put out print ads stating: “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.” I think they’ve proved by now that they don’t deserve it. Time and time again Facebook has made it abundantly clear that it is a morally bankrupt company that is never going to change unless it is forced to.

What’s more, Facebook has made it very clear that it thinks it can get away with anything because its users are idiots. Zuckerberg famously called the first Facebook users “dumb fucks” for handing their personal information over to him; his disdain for the people whose data he deals with doesn’t appear to have lessened over time.

I will keep using Facebook for what suits me, but I will continue to give them little in current or personal information. And I will continue to ignore advertising.


Leave a comment


  1. Zedd

     /  22nd December 2018

    Im so glad I never joined.. its just become a ‘data-mining’ resource for anyone who can hack into it OR perhaps pay for this ?

    It has reportedly been used to influence global politics too..
    Did Zuckerberg tell the world about this, when he stated it up ??
    Im guessing “Absolutely.. NO !” :/

    • Zedd

       /  22nd December 2018

      “… BUT you cant fool all the people all the time… SO now we see the light..”
      Get up, Stand up !

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd December 2018

    I have avoided it for most of the past year without feeling much loss. Zuckerberg seems to be a dubious character.

  3. Blazer

     /  22nd December 2018

    maybe Perigo gets to be right about …something.

  4. Reply
    • Zedd

       /  22nd December 2018

      another person (with any credibility) who can now drive off, in his gold-plated Ferrari.. laughing all the way to the bank ?

  5. NOEL

     /  22nd December 2018

    Don’t have an account. Son visited last week and was showing me how people forget to make the most of privacy settings in the app.

  6. Duker

     /  22nd December 2018

    “I will keep using Facebook for what suits me,”
    Thats a myth . Once you are in it will follow you where ever you go- which is facebooks real aim
    Even this web page has facebook cookies operating, and I bet you cant prevent them as WordPress is in cahoots.

    Guess what icons are even on this comment popup as I type ?
    Facebook and Twitter, so they are capturing commentators email addresses.

    Sorry PG , facebook IS using you whether you like it or not

    • Duker

       /  22nd December 2018

      Just blocked the facebook cookies on yournz.org. Ill see if it affects anything

  7. kluelis

     /  22nd December 2018

    Apparently the youth left Face Book to us oldies ten years ago. To be fair it is oldie women on FB as us men find family pics pets and lunch pics boring. Now that setting up your own you tube channel is so easy virtually every one is able to create their own world view. In no time there will be 25 million individual sites with 200 followers each rendering mass media sites like News papers (already dead) FB, TV networks BBC CBS Fox Sky etc irrelevant sooner rather than later.

    • Gezza

       /  22nd December 2018

      Google owns Youtube. It already mines your data and provides you with videos its AI algorithms serve up to you based sometimes on something horrible you clicked on posted by someone else.

      None of these big tech companies can be trusted with your information or knowledge of what you or others view that you open to watch.

      Aljazeera’s The Listening Post just recently examined how slick Zuckerberg & Sheryl Sandberg have been in pretending to deal with unrealised breaches while actively hiding who they’ve been allowing to access users’ data for years. Their excuse that users have consented rests on the fact nobody reads and can understand the implications of the cunning legal language used in their T&C’s and they just click Ok or I accept and get on with using it.

      Zuck and Sandberg know that!


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