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Wednesday, 21 March 2018 21:45

Can Facebook face up to its question of trust?

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With some beseeching the world to dump their Facebook accounts and stop supporting the company that treats its users like cattle, global analyst firm GlobalData says Facebook is "facing a question of trust".

Ok, so with GlobalData's media release actually headlined "facebook facing an question of trust", GlobalData clearly faces "an" question of understanding grammar, which is certainly "an" unfortunate thing, but it's presumably just "an" error.

However, Facebook's hoovering up of data, on a scale that challenges and possibly even surpasses Google's own data collection efforts, is "an" actual reality.

Indeed, the fact it allows third-party app makers incredible amounts of latitude in doing the same thing, has seen many wonder why our generation should be the one that let the concept of privacy slip through our fingers, with freedom (digital or otherwise) seemingly sure to follow next.

After all, as former US President Ronald Reagan said, liberty isn't passed down through the bloodline, and as we're discovering in the 21st century, neither is the ideal of privacy in an ever more public world where major corporations are grabbing us all by the male or female p-word (and I don't mean privacy) and getting away with it.

Of course, that's slightly hyperbolic, but only slightly, so what does GlobalData have to say about it all?

Well, the data and analytics firm says the following, and notes that "with Facebook’s stock value reportedly falling by $36 billion (19 March) as the company comes under pressure from policymakers to explain how data collected from 50 million facebook users was exploited for political gain," GlobalData's principal technology analyst Lynnette Luna had the following to say:

"Data privacy has always been bubbling under the surface as a concern for Facebook users. Trust is the lifeblood of Facebook’s business. If it loses that, it will lose more than its stock price in the long run.

"With the social media giant’s own end users, regulators and shareholders, already concerned about fake news and election hacking the company has work to do to ensure that trust in the organisation is maintained.

"This situation is damaging because it involves user information — from 50 million accounts — that was spread and kept out of Facebook’s control and without it’s users’ consent," continued Luna.

"Cambridge Analytica was able to get information from millions of Facebook users rather easily and store that data for years without Facebook knowing. To the public, this appears to be quite a flaw in Facebook’s ability to keep sole control over its information.

"Facebook must be concerned that this data breach incident could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for regulators.

"Regulation will stifle Facebook’s main value proposition: The ability for advertisers to use granular data to target receptive audiences," Luna concluded.

So, that's what GlobalData had to say.

What are my personal concluding views? 

My thought is that Facebook will weather the storm, and that most of the world's social media users will go back to being sheep, asleep at the digital wheel.

Sadly, it will be our children and grandchildren, treated as numbers by the big government of Big ZuckerBrother, only able to hear whispered stories of what it was once like to live in a world where you could be free and not spied upon at all times, in fear of ending up in Room 101 where eventually a welcome boot upon your face and then neck, crushing the life out of it, is your only escape from life under President Zuckerberg in the USSA, the United Social States of America, after which your vital organs will probably be harvested, photographed for Instagram, and then sold to the higher bidder. 

Good Luck, and mind your Ps and Qs while watching that they aren't being grabbed in the meantime.

And yes, while GlobalData's commentary above is its own, hopefully all of my commentary above ends up being "/s", and not an acutal prediction of the future.

If my predictions are that good I'd have won the lotto by now!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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