Sunday, March 25, 2018

Your Facebook Data Will Never Be Safe

Unless you've been locked into a backyard bunker waiting for President Trump to start a nuclear war, you know that Facebook is having some rather serious problems with the confidentiality of its users' data.  Data for some 50 million users somehow wound up in the hands of a UK data analysis firm called Cambridge Analytica, which then reportedly used it to assist Donald Trump get elected President of the United States.  Needless to say, the 50 or so million users weren't aware this happened.  Government investigations have started.  A search warrant was executed at Cambridge Analytica and calls have been made for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, to testify before Congress.  But, no matter what happens--Facebook takes more protective measures, government regulation increases, people are tossed in jail--your Facebook data will never be safe.

According to an apocryphal story, bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks and replied, "Because that's where the money is." Facebook's problem is it is where the data is.  Facebook has the best data on the Internet.  It insists on users using their true identities, and it operates a social forum, where it learns who is in a user's social circles, what they think, what they like, what they do, what they want, what they own, where they live, where they work, where they play, with whom they play, what illness and injuries they have, what medications they take, what treatments they get, what music they like, what television and video entertainment they like, where they go on vacation and with whom, what they eat, where they eat, who they like, who they dislike, who they date, who they want to date, who they marry, who they divorce, maybe even who they cheat on their spouses with, how they vote, who they vote for, why they vote a particular way, what their political views are, what their cultural values are, what their religious views are, where they worship, what prejudices and biases they have, what ethnic and racial groups they like or dislike, how they feel about gays, lesbians, transgender people or anyone else, how they feel about this sexual activity or that, etc., etc., etc., so on and so forth.  In other words, Facebook knows AN AWFUL LOT about its users, more than any other website or Internet company. 

Facebook is where the data is--the absolutely best data.  That's why hackers, unscrupulous foreign governments, shady political operators, and all manner of scoundrels and riff raff will continue to swarm around Facebook like a pack of hyenas, snatching whatever data they can get.  As we repeatedly learn just about every week, no repository of data is safe.  Neither governments, military or intelligence organizations, the most sophisticated Internet companies, nor anyone else can keep data safe.  Everyone who has valuable data has been hacked or probably will be hacked some day.  The architecture of the Internet is open, not closed, and true security is simply impossible.  Because Facebook has the crown jewels when it comes to data, the wolves will perennially attack and hack.  And even as Facebook puts up more defenses, the jackals will relentlessly prowl and find new ways to slip through and feed. 

Don't be naive when Facebook tells you they'll find ways to fix the problem.  They've been hoodwinked before, and, being human, they'll be hoodwinked again.  If you're on Facebook, you have a choice to make--have no expectation of privacy at all, or get the hell off of Facebook.

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