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AS I SEE IT

Posted 4/04/18 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

When Facebook was initially launched in 2004, it was intended to be a way that college students at Harvard could communicate with each other. But over time, that social media platform has grown to over two billion active users.
Joining Facebook was ever so easy. All it took was a couple of clicks to create an account and suddenly like magic, you were able to be in contact with family and friends, as well as anyone else that you chose to be friends with.
It sounded like the perfect way to stay in contact with people on an instant basis. No more writing a letter, sending an email or making a phone call to someone. Now all you had to do was post on their Facebook page. Plus, you now could “creep” to your heart’s content on what they were doing, who their friends were, and browse through all of their photos and comments.
And I, like millions of others, took to Facebook so that I could follow my family and friends.
Never once did I really ever concern myself about what Facebook was doing with the photos and comments that I may have posted. Or what information they were collecting about me.
And now, thanks to the recent news about the legal challenges that this social media empire is facing, it could end Facebook’s future. And because of these news reports, millions of its users now know that this was not the harmless social platform that we once thought it was.
Facebook was using the private information about each and every one of its billions of users to develop a network of information that could be used to target voters in political elections and direct advertisers to customers. If someone was willing to spend millions of dollars to buy the information from Facebook, the company seemed to be willing to sell your privacy.
Which is why Facebook is now facing legal challenges in Europe as well as in the United States that they have violated the privacy of its users.
The list of challenges is long to say the least. From the Federal Trade Commission to the Attorney Generals of 37 states who are questioning whether or not Facebook has violated its own “Terms of Service” or data breach notification laws. And there is the claim that Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to amass information on 50 million of its users that was used to try to influence the 2016 presidential election.
But it isn’t only just your privacy information that Facebook was collecting. It has also been discovered that the social media giant was keeping and maintaining text messages and calls for some Android users who signed up to use Facebook Messenger as their texting service.
The fallout from this fire storm of legal questions, as well as continued bad press, is going to cost Facebook dearly in the pocketbook as investors and advertisers are pulling away.
But the bigger question that Facebook is going to face going forward is how are its billions of users going to react to the knowledge that their privacy rights were violated?
Will they forgive Facebook for violating their privacy rights because they believe that staying in contact with friends and family is more important than their personal information?
Or will they decide that Facebook can’t be trusted and find a different way to connect with friends and family.