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Novelist Stephen King deletes Facebook due to privacy concerns

Joel C. Bautista | The Ticker

The best-selling author voiced his concerns about how Facebook is doing next to nothing on combating false information, fake narratives and protecting user privacy. 

King is not the only public figure to have parted ways with the popular social media site. Public figures such as actor Mark Hamill, singer Cher and CEO of Tesla Elon Musk have all voiced their concerns and dissatisfaction with the social network.  

Ever since the 2016 presidential elections, Facebook has been under large scrutiny by journalists, politicians, celebrities and users alike for doing little in protecting people from the spread of “fake news” and data breaches.

Amongst all the scandals and lack of protections surrounding Facebook, it is no surprise that many are parting ways with the social media giant, which also owns Instagram and Whatsapp. 

Platforms like Twitter and YouTube are creating new policies to combat areas that Facebook is neglecting. Twitter drew a stark contrast to Facebook when the platform announced its plans to create a new policy that will ban all political advertisement

Not only is Twitter planning on banning political ads, but it also wants to distance itself from third-party advertisers’ use of user’s information. 

Many people strongly suggest that Facebook’s lack of protecting user privacy and allowing third parties such as Cambridge Analytica to use highly individualized political advertisements was a large contributing factor that lead to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory.

 Not only has the tech giant allowed false information on the site about political news run rampant during the last presidential elections, it also allowed groups to form on the website and spread false medical information. 

Anti-vaxx groups are among the many Facebook groups that are spreading medical misinformation focusing mainly on vaccines. This has caused great controversy as some users have praised the information posted by these anti-vaxx groups, while others are scrutinizing them for their lack of citing scientific facts. 

Unfortunately, anti-vaxx groups are still active to this very day on the site and very little is being done to monitor the information they are posting. Users have voiced their concerns over Facebook’s lack of securing users’ data and privacy. Over the years, the social media network has been subjected to multiple data breaches.

In Sept. 2018, Facebook was subjected to a data breach by Cambridge Analytica which affected 50 million users having their accounts hacked and private information exposed. 

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal was a major political issue in 2018 when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without consent of those individuals.

Cambridge Analytica paid Facebook users anywhere from two to five dollars to take a personality test, while collecting data such as likes and personal information, as well as their friends’.

The results of the personality test were paired with data such as their likes to seek out psychological patterns. Using algorithms, the data was combined with voting records to create highly personalized political advertising.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal brought into light how third-party programs have easy access to Facebook user’s info to collect and use for the third party’s own use.

Another data breach occurred in 2019, where Facebook quietly confirmed 49 million Instagram users and 419 Facebook users’ private information — including phone numbers — had been exposed on Amazon cloud. 

“I think most online-savvy Americans knew and understood that everything they put online was subject to review by analytics, but now everyone has gotten a big wake-up call,” says Ava Roxanne Stritt, 54, a Facebook user and travel writer from Columbia, South Carolina. 

Scandals like such have pushed many Facebook users to quit participating on the platform in protest. 

Many users are just simply asking for the company to be more responsible with its users’ privacy and to fact check the content of information that is being exchanged via the platform. 

With that said, Facebook has offered a few solutions to fight the issues users have been more than vocal about by trying to give users control over what can be shared, seen and comment. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly promised to do better by its users to keep their data safe from third parties. 

“I am committed to getting this right,” Zuckerberg said during his testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

However, the social media website falls flat on its promises. Facebook has been criticized for “putting profits before patriotism,” doing nothing to protect its users from falsehood in political advertisement, allowing Russian bots to spread misinformation and polarize American ethnic and political groups. 

While many social media sites are doing their best to be more transparent and create better environments for its user base, social media sites always to some degree use personal data of its users to create revenue from its advertisers. 

With that said, it’s important that users of social media platforms should be more aware of the policies that jeopardize their private information, and thus makes them targets to million-dollar businesses.  

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About the Contributor
Jenna Jarrah, Business Manager
Jenna Jarrah is the Business Manager for The Ticker.

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