The frenzy around Facebook is a bit perplexing. I firmly believe the vast majority of Americans have no idea what this case is all about. They think Facebook has sold deep, dark secrets about them. What they don’t understand is they are the ones who gave away the secrets.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called before Congress recently to explain how a third party gained access and then sold information about Facebook users. What Zuckerberg failed to adequately explain is we gave them everything they got.
This is not a case of someone stealing identities. No credit card numbers were stolen. No Social Security numbers were leaked. Plain and simple, what Cambridge Analytica got from Facebook is a profile you painted when you posted to Facebook. Your likes and dislikes, your habits, your personality are all intertwined with your profile and postings.
As this whole so-called scandal was taking flight I was listening to a BBC interview with an American professor who sued Cambridge Analytica last year. British law requires them to hand over any information they may have accumulated on citizens upon request. He got several pages that painted a profile of him. What he found outrageous is they had him pegged as “very liberal.” He’s a college professor, so go figure. The host asked him if they had correctly identified his political persuasion. He said they had and that’s what prompted him to sue. He accused them of spying on him in the polling booth.
You would think a reasonably educated college professor would immediately understand that no one was spying on him in the polling booth. They didn’t have to. All they had to do was read his anti-Trump/pro-Hillary rants on Facebook to figure out he’s “very liberal.”
No surprise that Facebook lists me as very conservative. Do I care? Why should I? I am. Plus it keeps me being bombarded with ads from the global warming kooks. I happen to be a big fan of targeted advertising. So are advertisers. Instead of the old shotgun approach, they can now target ads specifically to people who will be more receptive to them.
For example, my car got totaled recently and I was searching for another one. I was continually shown ads relating to the type of car I was looking for. No trucks. No motorcycles. Just the car I was wanting. I actually clicked on several ads because they were helpful. That’s basically what Facebook does. They’re not following you into the polling booth as people have been led to believe. However, it’s the political angle that has so many people upset.
It’s like these people who constantly post their political rants don’t realize that anybody can read them. When some robot reads them and creates a profile, they get angry.
If you’re curious, you can actually see your advertising profile with a few clicks on Facebook. I won’t detail how here. Just do a search for “get your Facebook data.” They know I live away from the town where I was born. They know I’m a frequent traveler. They know my birthday is in September. They also know I’m very conservative. How do they know all this? Because I told them. In fact, I’ve told the whole world.
What’s troubling about Facebook is not that they’re actually reading my posts, it’s that they’re throttling and outright banning people like Diamond & Silk. At least the House members had the good sense to shift the focus to that.
So, you post what you had for dinner and someone actually cares. Advertisers. Surprise!
Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.