Science is a curse or a boon, once used to be the most common question in debate competitions. Yes, many believed Science is indeed a curse and debated against it, but that did not stop science from growing. One of such scientific development, which has changed billions and billions of lifestyle is Facebook.
The social media platform which we cannot live without today is Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s invention is something we all have adored all these years. It connected 50 year old to her long lost school friend, it united broken apart families and helped friends never lose touch. Until recently it was all hunky-dory, but since last one month the snake has come out and all of a sudden our best friend Facebook appears to be like Scylla of Homer’s Odyssey.
Let’s read a bit of what happened and why is Mr. Zuckerberg facing the tough Congressman’s tougher questions. “In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data,” this is an excerpt from Zuckerberg’s post.
In 2014 as a cleanup process Facebook forced apps like Kogan’s to shut and had asked them to delete the data. Kogan shared all the data with IT management company Cambridge Analytica, that’s the data of the people, their friends, their friends’s friends… arguably half the world on Facebook.
Now this is the worrying sign and that’s why the headline says what it does… We all have smartphones today, we have Facebook messenger through which we chat and there are so many apps which we link with Facebook, if “you” are among the “we” then you have lost your privacy just like all of us reading this story did.
Facebook Messenger stores all the chats, images, videos and everything else we communicate over it on the cloud. They say it’s protected, but they said the same to all the people whose data is leaked to Cambridge Analytica too. The apps you logged in through Facebook have access to your friend list, your date of birth, your profile, your friend-list and all other things you have allowed it to access. Now you must think I am a middleclass man/woman from a humble background what will they do with my data.
Here is what they do with the data, one: all the brands who put out ads used this data to target you their products… not much of a damage done, you can ignore the ad and if you like the product you can buy them. Two and the dangerous one, they play around with your psychology. These days knowing public opinion is extremely essential for political parties and religious outfits. There are organisations like Cambridge Analytica in India too, once they get access to your data they monitor you opinions. If you are a pro “political” party or anti, or you are completely apolitical in nature. After understanding your political standpoint these organisations try their best to move you in the direction they want. Let us simplify this a bit, for example lets assume you support Watermelon political party, by analysing your posts and statuses I (an agency) got to know that. Now jackfruit came and paid me a handsome amount of money to shift you towards jackfruit. Now what I (the agency) will do is, start throwing you anti-watermelon content, if there is no content I will create fake content and throw it to you. I will do it so regularly that gradually you will start having second thoughts about watermelon and once I get to know that you have started having second thoughts, I will start throwing you pro jackfruit content and you will fall in the trap and change your opinion.
This is what is happening all around the world, the Kenya election is the biggest example of that, people even question Russia’s intervention in the US elections. Not only political parties there are groups which try to change your religious beliefs too and all of this very much exists in India and around you too.
You cannot delete Facebook overnight, but what you can do is control your actions and most importantly reactions. Please make sure you give limited access to the apps, if possible do not allow any access, be careful what you chat on messenger, make sure there is no extremism, make sure you do not get provocative on your messenger chats, you might get arrested as all your chats including the pictures are saved.
If you read something or see something on Facebook that is too tough or too good to believe, take a while, google it read about it and then judge if it is true or false or iffy and then react to it. Recently when there were a lot of communal tension in Silchar there were so many fake Facebook posts and all of them had high number of shares, comments and impressions, which is a really worrying sign.
You cannot control what Facebook throws to you, but you are the custodian of your own conduct. Fail these Cambridge Analytica and million other such organisations by simply not falling prey to their tricks. Where there is a will there is a way.