Facebook and the currency of information

Sean Gallagher, writing for Ars Technica:

This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site. While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered something distressing: Facebook also had about two years worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received.

This experience has been shared by a number of other Facebook users who spoke with Ars, as well as independently by us—my own Facebook data archive, I found, contained call-log data for a certain Android device I used in 2015 and 2016, along with SMS and MMS message metadata.

Hearing about this just reinforces a thought I’ve had recently.

There’s should always be an exchange that users feel they make with their data, should they choose to share it. With Google, for example, I get personalized content for sharing my information with them (ie: predicted routes/trips in Maps, information via Google Now, etc) and I understand what is being shared and with who they plan on sharing. My information earns me something in return so I choose to share it.

With Facebook, there is no exchange. It’s like paying to get inside a store with bare walls.

Your information doesn’t afford you anything of value as Facebook takes it and leaves you with discomfort of finding the numerous questionable ways they’ve chosen to use that data. Messenger is was my primary messaging app to communicate with friends and family, and I now struggle to see how that’s worth handing over phone call, SMS data, and god only knows what else as a price of admission. I can will use a number of other apps to do the same while handing over less (or none) of my data.

This news, combined with the Cambridge Analytica story is just gross but, to be clear, I understand that the details of this collection likely exist somewhere in their massive TOS. I’m upset at myself for allowing them access in the first place and not looking into it more.

I wish I would have closed my account years ago.

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