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Friday, 30 March 2018

Will Cambridge Analytica-gate eventually force Facebook to traverse The Road to Golgotha, in order to be sacrificed for its criminally negligent and brutal behaviour?! I won’t shed a tear about it!

The success of social media platform Facebook is bedazzling. Over two billion users, of which at least one billion users logs in on a nearly daily basis. And in 2017 alone the company presented sales figures to the tune of €40 billion.

Facebook is the glue that binds numerous families and friend networks together and on top of it, it is the main (if not only) supplier of internet at remote spots of the world. And with the ownership of instant messaging app Whatsapp, the company is also the undisputed champion of the free message services.

And so, in less than 15 years, Facebook became one of the most important brands in the world of internet and social media; only surpassed in size by Google and far removed from the other social networks, like Twitter and Instagram.

But Facebook is also a controversial company, that is constantly hovering on the fine line between legal and illegal behaviour in its massive hunger for more advert sales, more tradeable user data and more addictive influence on its end-users.

In a way, Facebook acts like a drugs dealer who offers a very addictive and free product in order to make people addicted to its service. And then the people will pay…!

Some years ago I had become a part of the Facebook network, lured to it by the pictures and stories of some highschool friends from a long time ago. As opposed to Twitter, which immediately attracted me and reeled me in with its endless flow of (sometimes very) interesting short messages, fun and news flashes, I always had a love/hate relationship with Facebook. That never changed over the years.

In the beginning I used it as a tool to distribute my articles and occasionally I deliberatly posted something about myself, but for the rest I kept a very low profile there.

I was not particularly interested in knowing everything that my old and new friends and acquaintances did in their work or leisure time, unless I heard it from them in person. And I never felt the urge to share “everything” about myself or my family with the people on Facebook, only to see it go ‘viral’… which it of course never does.  

That, in combination with the sometimes utterly boring content of “shiny, happy people having a ball every day of the week in restaurants, bars and holiday resorts” and the increasingly shameless begging of companies and people to like them on Facebook for their own purposes, made that my sympathy for the social network dropped quickly below zero.

On top of that, through the years the stories kept on coming about Facebook further and further bending the rules regarding privacy and fair use of content put there by Facebook users. And especially regarding ownership of pictures, videos and whatever. The Golden Rule seemed: If you put it on Facebook, it belongs to Facebook!

As really nobody bothered to read the King Size-length Terms of Service of Facebook, the company used this knowledge to ‘bury’ all kinds of quite intrusive permissions and privileges on behalf of itself in the bottom of the conditions: You clicked on the tickbox that you accepted our conditions and thus you are supposed to have read those conditions. So hey hey… fooled you all, you bloody muppets!

And one day a few years ago, I discovered that Facebook automatically posted all my tweets on Facebook too. Even though I had certainly permitted this service earlier (probably without realizing this thoroughly), it was shocking to discover that I was not the “boss” with regards to what I wanted to post on the internet and where I wanted to post it. Facebook seemed to get an uncontrolled life of its own by scraping every utterance I did on every social platform together and putting it on their own platform.

I found a way to unregister myself from Facebook – with the help of other giant Google of course – and fought against the urge to have a peek at Facebook anyway in the two week cool down period. After two weeks it was finally over and done with! At least, that is what I hope.

I kept on using Whatsapp, even though I know this is a Facebook company, but that is all! I never went back again and I don’t miss it at all, even though the pictures and stories of old friends and interesting people keep sometimes luring me after all.

And then, a few weeks ago, I was pointed over and over again to the undeniable truth twice that it was a wise decision to abolish this social network in September, 2015.

One reason was the infamous Cambridge Analytic scandal that exposed the shameless hubris of two companies that think they can get away with litterally everything and that don’t scare away of blatantly manipulating 50 million people into chosing arguably the worst American president ever.

And of those 50 million people, at least 49 million were absolutely not aware that their profiles had been unwillingly surrendered as a consequence of an online survey that some friends or vague acquaintances of them did. They were simple guinea pigs for the Masters of the Universe that manipulated them. A simple means for making loads of money. Nuff said!

The second reason was in a way even more shocking for its boldness and ruthlessness. It was casually mentioned in a radio program of BNR News Radio in The Netherlands.

Facebook, they said, collected all the caller, call and SMS data from telephones that Facebook members used and posted those extremely private data to the network. Just, because they could do so!

Why. The. Hell. Would. A. Company. Do. That?!

What is the purpose? What is the point?

Unless you want to collect litterally everything from people, in order to be able to treat them as utter puppets on a string or to milk them as cows from their data?!

Which person in his right mind would take such brutally intrusive measures with only half a permission, coming from people he knows they didn’t read their rights and duties regarding the social network.

But now, finally now… it seems that Facebook went too far for their patient and perhaps even ignorant users to get away with these facts!

The outbreak of public outrage on Twitter cannot be simply overlooked and the chance that this ‘simply blows over’ is quite dim, as far as I’m concerned. A substantial number of high profile private and corporate users “has called it a day” with respect to the social network and has ended their subscription or their advertizing on it. Good for them!  

On top of that, both the administrations of the United States and the European Union, as well as the British government, have demanded a good explanation from Facebook highest ranked official (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg himself) about ‘what the hell’ went on there with Cambridge Analytica. And many more governments might follow in their footsteps.

As far as I’m concerned two things might happen here, after these events.

Either Mark Zuckerberg might be forced to step down as commander-in-chief of Facebook, only to be followed up by someone with less ‘virtual grease’ on his archetypical grey shirt. Or Facebook itself is split up for being too dangerously influential and too powerful a tool to be continued ‘as is’.

Whatever will happen in the coming period, I think it will become the end of the utterly powerful and dangerous monstrosity that Facebook had become. Either by itself or forced ‘at gunpoint’ by the international administrations and govenments around the globe.

Therefore I advise the executive management of Google, LinkedIn, Vkontakte (Russian social network) and many other social networks and information crunching companies all over the world to watch closely how the events unfold in the coming weeks and months.

It might save them from having to traverse the Road to Golgotha themselves…

For Facebook it is probably too late! And I won’t shed a tear about this, even though I fully understand that Facebook is the only access to internet in various countries. But such a shameless company does not deserve to exist anymore!



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