The company makes money by encouraging the users to facilitate their data and using that data in a way very different from what people might expect.But the solution is not to isolate yourself.
Is it time to give up on the social networks? Many people are posing after the revelations regarding the questionable use by Cambridge Analytica of the personal data of more than 50 million users of Facebook to support the campaign of Trump, not to mention the problems of data theft, the trolls, the bullying, the proliferation of fake news, the conspiracy theories and the bots Russian.
The real social problem could be the business model of Facebook. Like other social networking platforms, earn money persuading users to facilitate their data (without understanding the possible consequences), and using these data in a way very different from what people might expect.
As researchers who study social networks and the impact of new technologies on society, both in the past and in the present, we share these concerns. However, we are not ready yet to give up on the idea of social networks. One of the main reasons why we are not is that, like all forms of which in their time were “new” media (all included, from the telegraph to the Internet), social networks have become a critical means of to interact with other people. We believe that it is not reasonable to tell users that the only chance you have of avoiding exploitation is isolated. And in any case, for many vulnerable people, including members of poor communities, marginalized, or activists, let Facebook simply is not possible.
As people and the society at large come to better understand the role of social networking in life and in politics, are wondering if it is possible – or if it’s worth it – trust in Facebook.
To design something attractive
Naturally, the platforms of social networks would not exist without their users. Facebook has grown from its origins, in that it was only useful to university students taking advantage of the network effect: if all your friends socialize on the web site, it is tempting to join them. With the passage of time, this network effect has fact that Facebook is not only more valuable, but also more difficult to abandon.
What is wrong users to trust Facebook from the beginning?Unfortunately, we believe that yes
However, now that Facebook and the companies of its class are in the spotlight, it is possible that these network effects can have the opposite result: the number of active users of Facebook has continued to increase in 2017, but in the last three months of the year, their growth showed signs of slowing. If all your friends leave Facebook, it is possible for one to do the same.
The design of social networking platforms like Facebook – and many other common applications, such as Uber – is attractive to purpose. Some experts even go so far as to call it “addictive”, but the use of the term in a way so general in this context, we are uncomfortable with. However, the digital designers manipulate the behavior of the users with a wide range of elements of interconnection and the strategies of interaction, such as the notices and the development of habits and routines, to keep the attention of the users.
Attention is the basis of the business model of social networks because it is money: the theorist of the media, Jonathan Beller has pointed out that “human attention generates value”.
To attract users, get them involved and make sure that they want to go back, the companies manipulate the details of the interconnections of visual and interaction between users. For example, Uber, the company in order to share vehicles, teaches clients hire ghost to deceive you and believe that there are drivers near. The company uses a few psychological tricks – like when you send text messages to drivers to encourage them to stay active.
This manipulation is especially effective when the developers of applications they create options by default for users that are of interest to the company. For example, some privacy policies make the users choose not to share their personal data, while others allow users to choose to share them. This initial decision affects not only what information you end up revealing the users, but also your confidence in general in the digital platform. Some of the measures announced by the ceo of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in the wake of the revelations of Cambridge Analytica – including tools that show users what third parties have access to your personal data – could further complicate the design of the website and discourage even more users.
Frameworks of trust
What is wrong users to rely on Facebook from scratch? Unfortunately, we believe that yes. Social networking companies have never been transparent about what their intentions are with regard to the data of the users. Without a complete information on what happens to them their personal data when collected, we encourage people that, by default, do not trust businesses until they are not convinced that you should do so. However, there is currently no legislation, nor any independent body, to ensure that social networking companies are legit.
This is not the first time that new technologies have created a social change that alters the established mechanisms of trust. For example, during the industrial revolution, new forms of organization such as the factories and the significant demographic changes arising from migrations increased the contact between unfamiliar people, and between cultures. That modified the relations established and forced people to do business with merchants unknown.
For many vulnerable people, including members of poor communities, marginalized, or activists, let Facebook simply is not possible
The people could not rely on interpersonal trust. In contrast, there emerged new institutions: regulatory agencies as the Interstate Commission of Commerce, business associations such as the American Association of Railroad and other independent entities such as the Council of the American Medical Association on Medical Education, which established standards for systematic transactions and standards for the quality of the products and the professional training. Also made responsible if something went wrong.
A new need for protection
Still there is not a similar standards or requirements to demand accountability for the technologies of the TWENTY-first century as social networks. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC for its acronym in English) is one of the few regulatory bodies that works for that, digital platforms are responsible for the business practices to be misleading or that may be unfair. The FTC is now investigating to Facebook by the situation of Cambridge Analytica.
Other countries have standards, such as the General Regulation of Data Protection in the European Union and the Law of Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Canadian. However, in the United States, technology companies like Facebook have prevented actively these efforts and has opposed them, while legislators and other gurus of the technology have convinced the people that they are not necessary.
Facebook has the technical knowledge to give users more control over their private data, but has decided not to do it, and that’s not surprising. There are No laws or institutional regulations that may require or that the monitor to make sure that it does. Until that do not require a major platform of social networks such as Facebook that show how reliable and transparent manner that protects the interests of its users – that are different from those of their clients advertising – requests to dissolve the company and start from scratch they are not going to stop increasing.