In recent months, Facebook has been labeled in many domains as a shockingly duplicitous site. Its scandalous tactics have hardly been tattered by the badgering of the press. The sheer ignorance of those who own the site is famished and leads many to wonder; are these fanatical measures necessary for a site which promotes the concept of a global village? The days where such infuriation was left unnoticed, are a story of the past, today is an age where communities understand their rights and inculcate a sense of belonging to their service providers. Hence, the wrath of these communities is anything but lenient once they are introduced to hypocrisy. Facebook has made more than a few blunders in its recent history; these need a mention to enlighten all those who use the site that the illusion of rights and privacy are on certain occasion's privy to deceit. Surely, Facebook has not made a name for itself on these pretences. It has a very large number of people using it which would only applaud its success; however, there are a few areas where it seems that our beloved Facebook has played a fast one on us only to earn the extra dollar. Here is a humble yet factual illumination on a few of those issues.
1. Facebook made an agreement with the biggest crooks ever (Zynga)
Anyone who has ever used Facebook, and other social networking sites, knows of Zynga. However, not many know that Zynga is a company that is made up of greedy little black hearts. The profits of Zynga mushroomed excessively behind the crazily popular social-network games like Farm Ville, Fish Ville and Mafia Wars, sadly, so did the scrutiny. In the fall of last year, TechCrunch ran various exposés that were entitled as “Scam Ville”. They accused Zynga of making profits from fraudulent advertising schemes. Three weeks later a lawsuit was filed against Zynga. Tech Blogosphere ended up getting its hands on a video of Zynga’s owner, Mark Pincus. Consequently, after the release of the video, comment-boards went on fire. Mark Pincus is now prominently the villain of Web 3.0.
The question now is that, why would we despise Facebook for what Zynga does? Well, put in simple words, it is because Facebook has made an agreement with a company like Zynga. Can anyone comment on how it is in the best interest of its users? It has been co-working with Zynga to immense malicious extents and Facebook users are scarcely aware of these malpractices. In making agreements with Zynga, one cannot help but doubt the intentions of those who own Facebook. Cheating is not judged by the amount but only by the intent. What then, is Facebook all about?
Apparently, there have been some rising frustrations and tensions between Facebook and Zynga. Peculiarly enough, the brewing apprehensions between the two companies are not over Zynga’s illegitimate policies, but over money related issues. Zynga is pillaging Facebook, and Facebook cannot seem to function without Zynga. Facebook has approximately 24 million users signing in website daily for playing Farm Ville alone. One can only make an approximation on how many more would be signing in to play other games by Zynga on Facebook!
To cut a long story short, working with a bunch of money minded, voracious robbers, Facebook is in fact losing its ethical values in the eyes of many users.
Facebook has been hounded candidly in relation to not providing sufficient privacy features to its users. It has been noticed that Facebook has gone a little too far with the issue of sharing its users’ data with almost anyone. Whenever a user clicks on the advertisements that are featured on the site, automatically the advertiser is able to access all the information of the user’s profile. Harvard Business School professor, Ben Edelman informed the Journal, “If you are looking at your profile page and you click on an ad, you are telling the advertiser who you are.”
As if this was not disturbing enough, Facebook has recently opened up more user information to the public, an act of theirs that has drawn immense condemnation and FTC complaints. Additionally, of late, Facebook users have been having an increasingly tough time in steering the site’s often-convoluted privacy controls. With all these new disclosures about Facebook conveniently disregarding industry standards; not to forget it’s very own privacy policies, it might as well turn into a torrent of unrest and discomfort for its keen users!
3. Facebook makes another impolite move by hiring a team of lobbyists
In 2009, Facebook saw an unbelievable expansion. It went from 50 million users all over the globe in January, to nearly 400 million in just under 12 months. That very year, Facebook was reported to have spent a whopping $9.5 million (£5.9 million) while settling a lawsuit over its evident and disturbing advertising structure (launched in 2007). In November 2009, Facebook made a series of changes that exposed millions of its users’ private data to the world. These astonishing changes infuriated the privacy advocates and finally resulted in a petition being sent to the US regulator. Once Facebook saw this as a threat, it took no time in hiring a team of lobbyists in Washington and Brussels to push its agendas with politicians.
By making a move of this nature, Facebook assured their users that it seriously did not care at all about their users’ privacy issues and their basic concerns. The point which is particularly arcane is that why could Facebook not hire ‘a team of privacy specialists’ to improve its privacy issues? Instead, we get news like ‘Facebook is expected to improve its privacy issues.’
4. Facebook was actually doing this in the past
As if tampering with the privacy policies was not enough, Facebook began with a new travesty. It upset page owners on the site, by implementing a new stipulation. The conditions that were to be met were for page owners to have a minimum of 10,000 fans otherwise pay at least $25,000 for advertising, in order to set application tabs as landing pages.
Previously Facebook had announced that it had removed restrictions for page owners. However, they reverted back to their previous terms for page owners which ultimately followed an extensive dissent.
Why did Facebook include the landing page restrictions at first? Some speculations regarding the matter prove that such an act by the site was done so as to compel small page owners to pay for advertising.
The limitations set by Facebook authorities were meant to act as hurdles to prohibit spammers and scammers from establishing their own tabs that were filled with low grade or misleading content.
Ironically, the massive outcry of many page owners and page management companies has pinched a wrong nerve of the Facebook authorities and they have once again very reticently made a prompt reversion of the situation. Up until now, Facebook has not had much to say in relation to what has been going on.
Alternatively, the critical spectators viewing the marvels of Facebook are convinced that this act of theirs once again proves too much greediness and yet, too little care for its user. Facebook has been playing with its users’ privacy matter as of late, but it has caused much balk for its users in the past as well.
When Facebook was created, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a conversation with a college friend. This piece of evidence proves that Facebook really has no concern for its users’ privacy rights from the beginning.
According to SAI sources, the following conversation took place just shortly after Zuckerberg launched Facebook in his dorm room:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Anonymous Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb fucks.
This conversation is a short example of how cruel the makers of Facebook were at the time of its conception. To say the least, they did not go about it in a very respectful manner. Even after the heavy criticism and the never-ending scrutiny that they have received regarding their privacy policies, we can debate over the fact that those in charge may never take these reservations seriously.
Another major issue that erupted when this conversation was leaked to the media was that Facebook refused to make any comments in relation to the conversation. Thereby, it is apparent that Zuckerberg actually did have this conversation; he is guilty and obviously believes that this conversation does not deserve the attention that it has been getting.
6. Facebook is run by hypocrites
We have already proved how Facebook has been acting hypocritical. It has also been very immature in not responding to the concerns of its users. It has hardly ever responded directly to the questions posed by the media or its users. They simply use great PR tactics and cautiously slither away from the general concerns of its trusting users.
Facebook is replete with hypocrites when it comes to their policies. On their page of ‘Terms & Conditions’, Facebook guarantees the safety of certain things to its users. One such safety is as follows: “You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” Another safety it provides is: “You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.”
What is the importance of Facebook to us in today’s world? It is a forum for people to express themselves, stay in touch with their friends across continents, a means of shrinking the global village within our reach. Ninety percent of the population in the community of Facebook is not akin to the fact that, this is a site of charlatans. Now what is one to do about a topic worth sacrilegious mention on the site? It was termed by many as a freedom of expression.
The issue regarding “Draw Muhammad Day”, sparked outrage across the Muslim community. The page was targeting people based on their religion. No one has the time or the inclination to delve into such issues which do not concern them, but this is a matter which is the equivalent of being bullied into a corner by a gangster mob’s henchmen. Facebook should have abided by its very own policies (as mentioned above) and removed that page. However, they were too late in doing so. Colossal outrage and dissent had been sparked by the time they took the page off of Facebook. Had they reacted in removing that certain page in time, they would have simply saved a lot of trouble. On the other hand, Facebook authorities have been known to be quick in removing Nazi content from their site, which is sending all the wrong messages to the innumerable Muslim communities which are loggerheads with the Jews.
“You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.” This line clearly indicates that Facebook seemingly does not tolerate unlawful and prejudiced issues. How then does it justify not removing a page that was undoubtedly a matter of an extreme emotional nature and shocking for not just one but a million Muslims world over? Is this not sheer hypocrisy from their end? Certainly so!
On 24th May 2010, Mark Zuckerberg addressed Facebook users’ privacy concerns in a column in the Washington Post. Zuckerberg has admitted to have made “a bunch of mistakes.” However, the admission of the turmoil that he has put his users in does not help in convincing many people. He has admitted to tackling the concerns of Facebook users in the past and nothing formidable has ever come out of it.
Zuckerberg has declared that Facebook will be revising and adding new ‘easier and simpler privacy controls’ to its users. He has once more played a great PR tactic. By resting the blame on the shoulders of Facebook users, that they were unable to comprehend the previous privacy controls, hence the ‘privacy issues’ existed. It is highly unfair to rest the responsibility of providing sufficient privacy of a user on the user itself.
The point here lies in a simple but straightforward question. Will Zuckerberg ever be really honest? How long is he going to carry on fooling the users of Facebook? He has palpably accused users of Facebook as dumb people who trust him. Perhaps, he needs to take on a new approach in fixing up his trust issues with his users. He also needs to stand by to what he says, instead of simply continuing his relentless march to win the web. He has over 400 million people using his site. They deserve honesty.
In short: it is excellent news that Facebook is actually looking into the matter of fixing up its privacy settings, however had these moves been explained earlier to the public, it may have been more preferable.
Now we just have to wait and see whether Zuckerberg and his team successfully calm the tensions around the company’s stance. It is no misnomer that criticizing is similar to a walk in a beautiful park, yet making that park takes many years. Facebook is the principal site for millions. People love it; keeping everyone happy is impossible, however, a few minor critical remarks now and then will let Mr. Zuckerberg know, that his users are no ignorant imbeciles from the days gone by. In fact there are hundreds of brilliant minds, think-tanks and socialites flocking this site, making his name even worthy of mention at all!