Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You’re missing the point if you believe this is about Trump’s campaign

Eight years ago, Ian Bogost created a silly app for Facebook called Cow Clicker, and inadvertently collected a lot of data on people who signed on the play his time waster (by his admission). He still has it. This is not, in my opinion, about the Cambridge Analytica “scandal.” That hyperbolic hysteria only exists because of Trump’s presidency. Obama’s campaign did the same thing in 2012.   It’s a problem because millions of apps have been created, so no one really knows what has happened to that data Facebook users willingly gave away. If they weren’t trying to bring down Trump, it probably would have become an issue, although it shouldn’t have been happening.

He writes, “Cow Clicker’s example is so modest, it might not even seem like a problem. What does it matter if a simple diversion has your Facebook ID, education, and work affiliations? Especially since its solo creator (that’s me) was too dumb or too lazy to exploit that data toward pernicious ends. But even if I hadn’t thought about it at the time, I could have done so years later, long after the cows vanished, and once Cow Clicker players forgot that they’d ever installed my app.

This is also why Zuckerberg’s response to the present controversy feels so toothless. Facebook has vowed to audit companies that have collected, shared, or sold large volumes of data in violation of its policy, but the company cannot close the Pandora’s box it opened a decade ago, when it first allowed external apps to collect Facebook user data. That information is now in the hands of thousands, maybe millions of people.”

In some ways, this reminds me of the Henrietta Lacks story, where her cell line was used without compensation to her and her dependents.  FB users gave away the data; FB then sold them and Zuckerberg became one of the richest people in the world.

1 comment:

Norma said...

Even if Congress cracks down on FB or other social media about selling our information, how do we really know what they've collected and already sold? My information was hacked several times when I was at the university. And things were much less sophisticated then.