What Have We Learned From Facebook This Week

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A lot has been written about Facebook over recent weeks, with the coverage reaching a crescendo early this week following Mark Zuckerberg’s ten hours of congressional testimony. But something has emerged that has given me pause. How do we consent to our data being shared?

When it comes to our data, service providers can either ask us to consent to sharing or share it by default, requiring that we take specific steps to stop data from being shared.

For example, when it comes to facial recognition, Facebook is fighting against users consenting to have their faces recognized in photos. During this week’s hearings Zuckerberg talked about users having informed consent but that’s not happening in the courts.

Facebook isn’t the only company that uses data in “creative” ways but what this last month or so highlights is that consent is a major issue. And the agreements users are confronted with are often opaque making it hard for people to understand what data is being collected and shared, and who would get access to it.

Perhaps the biggest thing all businesses and individuals can take away from all this is railing against crappy user agreements. If the terms and conditions aren’t clear, let’s hit those businesses with calls and messages asking them to clearly explain things.

If you read an agreement and don’t understand it or it’s so long as to make it hard to find the pertinent sections then hit the email or phone and make the company collecting your data accountable.


Comments

    What surprised me with all this was how fast the govt acted on the issue? Usually, it takes years for them to get going, but the US govt had Zuckerberg in front of a board within weeks.

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