By Dan Calabrese
Make this stop. Please.
Not because I have any sympathy for Mark Zuckerberg, whose groveling over the matter is only feeding this silly narrative.
But how can you take seriously the notion that people who willingly gave their data to a social network with more than a billion members are now crestfallen because some outfit called Cambridge Analytics got ahold of it.
How many spam e-mails do you get every day? How many robocalls do you receive? How many times have you walked into a restaurant and suddenly Google started showing you ads for that restaurant on every web site you visited?
How do they know?
Don’t ask me to explain the technical nuances, but I can tell you this: There is no privacy. Period. For anyone. And it’s the result of your own decisions. You decided to sign up for the accounts, download the apps, allow access to your locations and do all the other things you did. And so did I. I gave Facebook my phone number, my e-mail address and all kinds of other information.
Because that’s the kind of world we live in. Maybe you gave them that information but chose “privacy settings” you were sure would keep anyone from seeing them. Then you turned around and played “Your Digital Life” and agreed to give whoever created that all the information you thought was protected under “privacy settings.”
There. Is. No. Privacy.
None. There never will be again. The world is too connected, too automated, too open. I’ve never worried about it much anyway, but if you’re the type who does, then you had very unrealistic expectations when you handed all that information to Facebook and expected it to be kept close to the vest. That data is how Facebook makes money off you. That data is Facebook’s most valuable commodity.
That’s what makes this so absurd:
When he goes before Congress this week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, will issue a broad apology for letting the website be used as a conduit for fake news, election meddling by foreign entities, hate speech and privacy abuses, according to a copy of his testimony released on Monday.
“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in comments published by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
Facebook is entering a week of intense scrutiny in Washington, with Mr. Zuckerberg scheduled to testify before congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday. The company is confronting a surge in criticism over how it handled the private data of as many as 87 million users that was harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm tied to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Mr. Zuckerberg, in his prepared remarks, addresses the scandal, saying that Facebook must do more to protect its users’ personal information. The company, he says, will block app developers from gaining access to the data of users who have been inactive for three months; restrict the ability of users to inadvertently share information about others in their networks; and adopt stricter permissions guidelines and search features.
Once a person provides his or her data to another person, all bets are off. It will be accessed. It will be shared. It will be exposed. Everyone in the world can find a way to know it.
Facebook didn’t fail by not protecting the data. It can’t be protected. Facebook failed by giving people the impression that the data can be protected. But people failed just as much by believing it.
I know some of you are creeped out by how much these people know about you. You think we’re a step or two away from the information being used to control everyone’s lives, perpetrate tyranny . . . whatever it is you think is coming. I get it. Sorry you’re wigged.
But the day you gave Facebook that information, you gave it to the world. And there’s no taking it back now. Let politicians flog Mark Zuckerberg for it if you want, but it doesn’t change reality. Everyone can now know everything about everyone. And it’s never going back the way it was.
Maybe they’ll give you that dislike button you’ve been asking for so you can emote about it. But if you do, remember: We’ll all know!
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!