By Dionne Smith, Community Editor
When I first made my Facebook account, I was about nine years old. I was excited to finally join under the thought of connecting to my family, and any friends I had. Of course, I didn’t read the terms of agreement as my small little brain couldn’t possibly understand the information in front of me. I dove into it head first. I included my full name, date of birth, the town I lived in, and a photo of myself.
Around my junior year of high school is when my use of Facebook began to decline. I didn’t post about the big box of pop-tarts my father brought us, I didn’t post bad selfies of myself as often, but I still used it as a source of news, a common space to talk to my friends through messages, and as a search engine to like the pages of things I liked. It was about this time I started noticing the ads, and how sometimes something I was looking at would show up on Facebook, like an Amazon item. I started to connect the dots that Facebook could access a lot of information about me. From my post, my pictures and my friends, they could target specific ads that would pertain to me. They could also use any website linked to Facebook in any way. If a page has a share button that links to Facebook, then Facebook knew what page I was on. Not only that, but everything on the internet is connected through Google or Twitter as well.
In the last few years since my realization, Facebook has continued to grow. Of course over the time of it’s growth there has been more and more controversy and fear about where our private information is going, and if third party companies have data on us. Personally, I feel that I am aware of the risk I take with continuing to use Facebook. I have a lot of personal information on it like where I’m from, pictures of myself and where I work, but these are all things I would share with a random Lyft driver on my way to work. Things I wouldn’t share, like my email address and my phone number, are not publicly on my Facebook.
I’m aware that anything I’ve shared about myself on Facebook could never truly go away, and I’m aware that the Facebook can track pages I’m on, look into my search history for a short period of time to target ads at me, and much more. Although I’ve gotten close to deleting my Facebook many times, it’s not because I’m afraid of having all my information I already made public being stolen, but because sometimes I just want to disconnect from people sometimes.
Most people have a phone of some sort, and that is an even bigger privacy invader. It’s with you everywhere you go. The GPS built in knows exactly where you are. All your private text messages could be seen or stolen by a cyberattack. Your phone is connected to all your social media mediums, has your photos and actually knows everything about you. While this is all true, Facebook still has a right to its users to protect all of this information and to keep them safe from people that would abuse such information, which is why it is important to have hearings and try to get answers, such as the hearings with Mark Zuckerberg recently.
I personally feel that everything happening with Facebook is nothing new. There are people that know how much we make annually, where we live, our credit and many more very personal things. In exchange for some personal information, Facebook offers us a service, using the information as data to accurately give the right service. Facebook knows someone’s name, hometown and what they look like in order to give them the experience of connectivity, socialization, and information. Of course there has to be a level of trust between Facebook and the user, and Facebook has to prove that they can ward off people trying to get access to said information. With the case of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook could not foresee that they would take advantage of the information given, so said trust has been hurt. Hopefully over time Facebook will regain that trust, though judging from Mark Zuckerberg’s raise in his net worth, I’d say he didn’t break everyone’s trust. I will continue to use Facebook in the same caliber that I do now, barely using it, and only to connect to friends, family and coworkers.