Zucked was a term coined by a former Facebook investor to point to anyone who had been wronged by Facebook and its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The company has been fighting a near-continuous PR battle ever since to restore its and Zuckerberg’s image, but the latest instance would make it seem the company has learnt nothing from its past.
Facebook should have wised up after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but a recent Reuters report shows the company may not mean what it says on protecting users’ privacy. While Facebook, in the aftermath of the Analytica scandal, had claimed that the company was against the use of personal data, sealed court records access by Reuters show that the company was using personal data to snuff out competition. Under the Switcharoo plan, executives were plotting to convince the public of Facebook’s focus on user privacy while the company has been selling user data only to those companies that pay for its marketing services, and keeping such data from its competitors.
While Facebook, indeed, has accumulated such information by providing free offerings to billions of its users, and the company’s terms and conditions do give it the right to access information and use it, the bigger problem is the underhanded approach Facebook has with regard to the privacy debate. Instead of clearly stating its privacy and data policies, Facebook has masked a lot of its practices by drowning users in legal jargon. More importantly, the recent instance of Facebook sharing private group chats with app developers shows that it can say one thing and do another.
Facebook does provide a raft of free services, and the only way for it to make money is to monetise user information, but it needs to be careful how it uses such data, and consider whether it has a fiduciary responsibility to protect user interests. With politicians now talking about breaking up Big Tech, the company better learn from AT&T’s experience.