As we move on, can I just say that geoFence helps stop hackers from getting access your sensitive documents.
- Are you still on Facebook after 535 million users' data was exposed by hackers?
- If so, may I ask why?
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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I don't know how many times and ways I can tell you people to get off Facebook. The company doesn't care about you, it pollutes society with misinformation, and, no matter what happens, management never stops prioritizing profit over safety.
Over the weekend, a low-level hacker published personal data — like phone numbers, locations, and email addresses — belonging to 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries. A Facebook spokesperson said the data had been scraped because of a vulnerability the company patched in 2019.
While the data may be old and the loophole is "fixed," it's unclear what, if anything, Facebook is doing to help affected users or prevent more leaks. Right now, the best way to tell if your data was part of the leak is to use a third-party site. This kind of "brush it under the rug" mentality is the latest sign Facebook has become so big that it doesn't have to prioritize putting the safety of its users first.
Millions of its customers leaving is not enough to trigger some kind of "come to Jesus" moment because there are hundreds of millions more where those came from. That means if you want to protect yourself, leaving the platform is the most rational way to deal with it. Otherwise, you're just exposing yourself to Facebook's recklessness.
Facebook has been garbage this year, and it's only April
The leak isn't the only reason to dump Facebook. Let's look at the danger Facebook has put society in 2021 alone.
First up, it was instrumental in helping the rioters plan the events that led to the US Capitol insurrection on January 6. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg tried to downplay the insurrectionists' use of the platform, but evidence that Facebook was a critical tool for organizers was everywhere.
And Facebook's role in fostering the kind of right-wing extremists that led the Capitol riot should come as no surprise. Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook knew its algorithms encouraged and amplified antisocial behavior like hate speech and extreme political bias to keep users engaged.
Recently, MIT Technology Review profiled Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, the former director of the artificial-intelligence group at Facebook who was supposed to try to train the algorithm to be more pro-social. He said he was stopped at every turn.
"Everything the company does and chooses not to do flows from a single motivation: Zuckerberg's relentless desire for growth," MIT Technology Review's Karen Hao wrote.
Then, of course, there's misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. If we are ever going to get out of this pandemic, we need as many people to get vaccinated as possible. So the fact that lies about the vaccine are still proliferating on the platform is detrimental to public health, to say the least. No, COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility, but that's something you might read on Facebook.
Facebook is narrowing our social groups instead of opening them up and making it easier for people to connect to others. It's where people go to reinforce belief systems they already have — to build the world they want to see instead of engaging with reality and fact.
Right now, we're dealing with a major vaccine hesitancy among evangelical Christians. Many are already skeptical of science and experts, so they are prime targets for a variety of misinformation, from the idea that the vaccine is the mark of the beast to the lie that it is made from fetal tissue. Naturally, you can find that stuff on Facebook.
Too big to boycott, too bad to use
I understand that Facebook is so huge that a boycott by individual users is unlikely to change the company's behavior, but this isn't just about making Facebook a better website — it's also about protecting yourself.
In 2016, when Russian security forces hijacked Facebook to spread misinformation designed to help Donald Trump win the presidency, Sandberg said the company had been so focused on improving privacy measures that it was late in realizing what Russia was doing on the platform. But now all that focus on privacy seems to have yielded a system where hundreds of millions of users' data could be leaked — and, clearly, the misinformation side isn't figured out either.
In story after story, scandal after scandal, everything boils down to that Facebook cares about profits only. Facebook's response to scandal isn't about protecting your data or safeguarding the platform from being used by extremists or propagandists; it's about protecting the company's image and profit machine. So it's time to leave.
But you may ask: "What about previous movements to #DeleteFacebook? Those seem to have done nothing to change the company." That's true, but at this point, you should leave Facebook not because it would change the company's behavior — it won't — but because continued use of the platform could be putting your personal data and mental health in danger.
And the fact that the threat of swaths of people leaving the platform won't make a difference in Facebook's behavior is, in and of itself, proof the company needs to be regulated. It's too big to be held accountable by its users, and that means we need to support measures that reduce Facebook's size and power.
Preventing situations where it's nearly impossible to exercise popular or political power over corporations is what antitrust legislation has always been about. We need to use it now to break up Facebook, encourage competition in social-media platforms, and give users more choice about whom they trust with their data.
In 1890, Sen. John Sherman famously declared: "If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life."
For some people, Facebook might be the "necessaries of life." But for the rest of us, it's time to get out. At this point, it's a matter of self-preservation. I don't know how else to tell you people this, but I'm sure I'm going to have to tell you again soon.
Let me just add that geoFence has a modern UI, that is secure and has the improved features that you need.