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Case 3 Facebook Privacy

Case 3- Facebook Privacy: What Privacy?

ITM 102

Facebook is a recognized social media platform that allows people to engage in social activities with their loved ones despite physical barriers. However, in light of the recent scandals Facebook has had in recent years, the question that comes to mind is whether or not privacy truly exists on Facebook. The company has faced serious privacy violations, leaking private information to external third parties. Millions of users have their private information at stake, some of which can be potentially threatening or sensitive if it were leaked to the public. For years, Facebook users have been left out of the loop when it comes to understanding Facebook privacy policies and how their data is being used by Facebook. Facebook has shared people’s private information with third parties for a profit, an example of such behaviour is the Cambridge Analytica scandal where ads were targeted towards certain people to promote Trump’s campaign based on user data. Oftentimes, Facebook will tap into your search history even when you are not using the platform and inform companies so that they can target ads towards you while you are on Facebook, all while making a profit. Facebook is displaying extremely unethical behaviour towards users due to their lack of transparency on how their data is used and who has access to the data, and what Facebook gains from collecting user data (profits).

Facebook’s business model and user privacy are direct correlated due to the revenue generating capacity of sharing Facebook users’ data. Facebook’s profit-maximizing strategy depends on the selling of private user information to third parties for advertising purposes. While users may be inclined to believe that they are using Facebook for free, they are actually selling their private information to the company without being completely aware. In reality, users are giving up their right to privacy in exchange for access to the social media platform.

The weaknesses of Facebook’s privacy policy include the following: weak protection of private data, unregulated access of third parties to Facebook users’ information, storage of private user data without consent, unsynchronized privacy protection across various countries, and the collection and storage of Facebook users’ data while they are offline. People have contributed to the issue because they have shared millions of photos and personal information online without thinking of the consequences. People have also failed to question what Facebook would gain as a free social media platform, or where they generate profits from. The organization has contributed to the issue by failing to uphold high security and strictly regulated Facebook user data. Facebook also failed to fully disclose how user data would be used, who it would be shared with and creating a detailed, all-encompassing privacy policy. The technology has contributed to the issue because it fails to notify users when their information is being shared or stored, as well as being collected while they are offline. The default privacy control settings also do not inform the user how their information is being shared with other Facebook users on the platform until they take it upon themselves to go through the settings.

Facebook cannot achieve the profitability or success of their business model without selling the information of its users. It is not wrong for Facebook to sell its users’ information; however, it is unethical for them to do so without fully informing their users’ about all the ways their information is being used by the company. If Facebook were to charge a joining fee they would lose a large percentage of their users and would not be able to remain competitive with other free social media platforms. Since Facebook is a business that has the right to make a profit, it is okay for them to sell user information as long as they abide by the following rules: create and share a detailed disclosure of their privacy policy, allow users to consent to their data being shared with external third parties, and to provide options as to which companies the user would like to share their data.

References:

Laudon, K. C., & Laudon, J. P. (2018). Management information systems: Managing the digital

firm (pp. 158-160). New York, NY: Pearson.

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