I have said it many times… I’ve even written it before . I don’t expect much privacy when I swim with the sharks (Google and Facebook). I think we all feel the same. Not knowing exactly which data they are collecting, or how they plan to use it is discomforting. Every time I use “voice to text”, I wonder if Google is creating an enormous backlog of recordings. Maybe, one day, I’ll get an email that says I owe Google a dollar. If I don’t pay it, Google will release a voice recording of me saying “Okay Google, how much would 1 ticket to the Backstreet Boys reunion cost?”
Yup, my fear of big data is perfectly rational, and I’m at peace with it. Deep beneath my every day, there is a jittering worry that I am being bought and sold by the phone in my pocket.
Last month, Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to Capital Hill in Washington and deposed by many Congress-people of America. I watched every damn minute of the action over those days. I think this deposition was the first of many defining battles of the 21st century. Hundreds of lawyers got their 120 second turn to burn Mark down, for being careless with people’s collective privacy. I was saddened, somewhat, as I watched. It was really clear that most of these senators and congressmen had not done their homework. They didn’t know how Facebook claims to work, so when their turns came up, they asked the same questions as many lazy congressmen before them had:
” blah blah blah when Facebook sells our private data?”
To which Mark always replies “Again, senator, Facebook doesn’t sell people’s data. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about how this system works.”
So, Mark basically cuts down the entire senate, while America watches. But a few shining knights of Capital Hill did their jobs well. The senator from New York hit Zuckerberg pretty hard. He called bullshit on Mark Zuckerberg for having a typically difficult EULA (End User License Agreement). EULA is the thing that you have to click “I have read and accept the conditions” on, before you can have a Facebook account. The senator said “Two of my junior staff are lawyers, and they could barely understand that thing. You gotta make this process something your users actually understand! Plain english.”
To Zuck’s credit, it seems he has. Today I logged into Facebook and the platform spoke very clearly to me. It said, “Facebook wants to be able to recognize your face. This will protect you from people using your account. Do you want to allow this?”
Well… no. Thank you for asking though. It was a very morally high-ground move, to expressly seek my permission to use my camera to take pictures of my face, when I’m using Facebook. You could have snuck it into the End user License agreement, but you didn’t.
There’s a good chance this is motivated by the push from Capital hill last month. Like, if that hadn’t happened, then Facebook would have just slid it into the EULA. So, to some degree, I must admit: the system works.