Facebook data-sharing debates: Who is to blame?

There has been an ongoing debate about the recent incident of Mark Zuckerberg being called to the courts. In simple words, the debate was about whether Facebook has been invading privacy and selling personal information to businesses running ads online. It surely is doing that but the argument saving Mark is the fact that Facebook and Messenger apps both ask for permission to have access to contacts and other personal information including camera so whatever is being done is not without consent!

Is selling information all bad?

The question arises that whether this leak of information to marketing teams and ad agencies is always bad or not. Facebook is a platform that is used by millions of entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and reach the maximum possible target audience. By purchasing information of active users, they are just placing ads but in a more efficient way.

The information sold to these professionals can help them identify the purchasing behavior of every user which means that the users do not get random ads anymore. Instead, they get ads about goods and services they have been talking about! Ignoring the technical methods of doing it, for now, Facebook knows what you have been searching for and talking about with friends so marketers use this information to show you relevant ads.

The Cost-Benefit Analysis

A logical argument that is being presented is that this selling of information is benefitting marketers as well as users of Facebook because the former is not able to filter out consumers not in the target group while the latter is avoiding irrelevant ads.

The costs, on the other hand, is that we do not know in what other ways our information is being used. We allow messenger to use our camera and microphone whenever it wants which means that anybody could see you through your camera and listen to what to you are saying because you authorize it. While no major threat has emerged as yet, users are afraid that their personal information might go to the wrong person!