Let’s “face” it: Facebook is a huge success despite all its privacy-invasive business practices. The company became a multi-billion dollar success story by exploiting the personal data of two billion people. If you are a Facebook user, your approximate income, your religious preferences, political leanings, ethnic origins, how many children you have, and even sexual preferences probably are available to anyone who wishes to pay for that information. Yes, even representatives of various governments around the world can purchase your personal information, as can credit reporting agencies, private detective agencies, the Republicans, the Democrats, the American Nazi Party, or any other political group. Many people, including myself, think there’s something wrong with that.
I have read many online articles, newsgroups, newspapers, and magazines with articles suggesting the governments of the world should stop Facebook from collecting and selling the personal data of all its members. I suspect that effort will go nowhere. First of all, defining “personal data” is a fuzzy challenge. Just what should be legal to collect and sell versus what should be illegal? Any potential laws would need to define what constitutes “personal data,” and that alone seems like Herculean challenge.
Next, the multi-billionaire CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has an army of lawyers and highly-paid lobbyists whose sole job is to make sure that Facebook can continue to conduct its business in any manner that Zuckerberg wishes forever. After all, Zuckerberg is the one who stated in public: “privacy is a social norm of the past.” Now that he is a multi-billionaire, you know he wants to protect the business he has created. If any legislation concerning collecting and selling personal information ever appears in the U.S. Congress or elsewhere, Zuckerberg and his minions will soon make it disappear. Yes, lawyers and highly-paid lobbyists have long proven they do have that much influence.
I will suggest there is a better solution, and it is very simple: take our business elsewhere.