Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress last month, and there were a few points he needed to clarify. He promised to get back to the legislators, and so he did.
Notes Buzzfeed (“Here Are 18 Things You Might Not Have Realized Facebook Tracks About You Including: information about your online and offline actions and other devices on your Wi-Fi network), “Last week, Congress released a massive document with written answers to those questions. These responses were a good reminder that Facebook records a ton of information about you.”
Here’s the list:
- information from “computers, phones, connected TVs, and other web-connected devices,” as well as your “internet service provider or mobile operator”
2. “mouse movements” on your computer
3. “app and file names” (and the types of files) on your devices
4. whether the browser window with Facebook open is “foregrounded or backgrounded,” and time, frequency, and duration of activities
5. information about “nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers” and “signal strength” to triangulate your location (“Connection information like your IP address or Wi-Fi connection and specific location information like your device’s GPS signal help us understand where you are,” said a Facebook spokesperson.)
6. information “about other devices that are nearby or on their network”
7. “battery level”
8. “available storage space”
9. installed “plugins”
10. “connection speed”
11. “purchases [users] make” on off-Facebook websites
12. contact information “such as an address book” and, for Android users, “call log or SMS log history” if synced, for finding “people they may know” (Here’s how to turn off contact uploading or delete contacts you’ve uploaded.)
13. information “about how users use features like our camera” (The Facebook spokesperson explained, “In order to provide features like camera effects, we receive what you see through camera, send to our server, and generate a mask/filter.”)
14. “location of a photo or the date a file was created” through the file’s metadata
15. information through your device’s settings, such as “GPS location, camera, or photos”
16. information about your “online and offline actions” and purchases from third-party data providers
17. “device IDs, and other identifiers, such as from games, apps or accounts users use”
18. “when others share or comment on a photo of them, send a message to them, or upload, sync or import their contact information”
What do these points have to do with ‘connecting the world through Facebook,’ which was Zuckerberg’s heartfelt plea to Congress re data collection?
More like connecting every part of your life and hoovering up the information, whether or not you’re using Facebook, and through devices you have that have nothing to do with the platform.
“Facebook Has Watched You Browse The Web For Years. (And No, “Clear History” Won’t Really Stop It. When you see what they see, it’s going to be very terrifying for everyone.”), Buzzfeed reports. “Facebook, under massive public pressure for years of privacy breaches, won praise earlier this month when it said people would soon be able to “flush your history whenever you want.”
Except the new feature won’t exactly do that.”
“It’s possible that Facebook has denied users access to (Facebook’s data collection outside of Facebook) because, well, it’s creepy,” says Buzzfeed.
Yet people are up in arms over privacy on other fronts. Such as when the Wall Street Journal reports that Police Use of Driver’s License Databases to Nab Crooks Spurs Privacy Concerns Thirty-one states now allow law-enforcement officials to access license photos to help identify potential suspects.
Where are the police getting the information? Instagram, baby, which is owned by Facebook.
We know that we mention privacy concerns often, and some of you approach us at events and say, “I’ve been using Facebook (or Google or insert-name-of-invasive-platform-here) for years. They already know everything about me. At this point, what difference does it make if I’m still on Facebook?”
Let’s say that you had a young neighbor whose busy, distracted parents often neglected to feed him dinner at a reasonable hour, so you had him to dinner at your apartment every evening instead. Ten years go by, same ritual every night. Although he is grown and on his own now, he still dines with you every evening Although he does seem to live above his means – and his parents don’t contribute to him, financially.
Now, you have noticed over the years that your emergency money stash – in your case, large sums – tends to go missing. Even when you change the hiding places. One day, after a particularly large sum disappears, you realize that it couldn’t have been anyone but the neighbor’s kid who has been taking the money. All those years. Knowing this, do you:
- Confront him
- Call the police and press charges
- Let it slide: you’ve known him all his life: that’s just the way he is and what difference does it make at this point?
Time to stop with the meaningless apologies and invasive data collection channels and backchannels. Don’t let that Big Boy suit he dons when appearing before Congress and his seeming deer in the headlights “innocence” fool you. The image is actually accurate and make no mistake about it: in this case, Mark Zuckerberg (et al) is very much the boy next door.
Onward and forward.