Is privacy a myth for Facebook users?

Megan Lafond, Contributing Writer

A man who usually hides from the limelight as head of one of the largest social media platforms in the world was forced to come out of his shell and speak the truth.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg publicly addressed on March 21 the rumors that were proved to be true of the misuse of data of over 50 million of his Facebook users. Data was collected on political views and opinions that could have played a role in the 2016 election. As if there isn’t enough controversy already surrounding the election, Facebook and Zuckerberg’s name are now on the list.

Additionally, Zuckerberg read a statement and answered questions in an interview with The New York Times, but didn’t seem to issue an apology directed towards any of his users. Simply put, Zuckerberg said, “We also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.” The question is what will actually be done, and will he be the one to step up to the plate?

In response to his vague and unapologetic interview and statement, policy makers and the public alike have turned against Facebook. Investigations are beginning in many states such as Massachusetts and New York, and a #DeleteFacebook movement is spreading rapidly. The public has suddenly lost trust in a leading social media platform, and this creates uncertainty for the future for Facebook.  With usage already declining due to the emerging popularity of Instagram, this controversy will only continue to add to the switch.

The idea that one’s own thoughts, beliefs, and answers to a quiz taken on Facebook could have been used to help the Trump campaign could be the last straw for users both young and old. Younger generations are leaving Facebook and flocking to Instagram, and older generations may opt to forgo social media entirely. Without privacy protection, is there any trust between the user and the app?

This question can be raised not only for Facebook, but also Instagram. Facebook’s ownership of Instagram may indicate that these same deeply-rooted issues may also arise as a result of its parent company’s policies. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the public can ever really be sure if the question of internet privacy can ever be answered truthfully. Who’s to say these same tactics used by Cambridge Analytica and Facebook are not already implemented with Instagram, or even other platforms not owned by Zuckerberg himself?

Although I think it’s fair to say that most Facebook users rely too heavily on the social network, Facebook still connects hundreds of millions of people to each other. As a result, it’s unlikely that Facebook users themselves will drive meaningful change in the handling of their data.

We all hope that Facebook faces the consequences necessary while also telling us the truth we deserve, but in the end, have any of us even thought about deleting our Facebook pages? The most common answer, I would guess, is no.

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