By Kim Komando, Signal Contributing Writer
Facebook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, even though we have enough reasons to dump it: privacy issues, privacy issues and — more privacy issues. Last year was one of the roughest for the social media giant, but at 2.2 billion average monthly users, it doesn’t appear to be losing any ground.
Should you break up with Facebook? We’ve got 5 reasons you might want to consider it:
Reason 1 Facebook’s privacy issues
In early 2018, we found out that Facebook app-makers were violating usage agreements — for years — by turning a blind eye and accessing data users’ contacts. Oh, and Facebook knew about it. If you agreed to let this app access your data, you were also unknowingly granting them access to access your contacts’ information.
Then in the fall of 2018, there was the big hack that affected an estimated 50 million Facebook accounts. Not only did this breach potentially affect your Facebook account, but it gave hackers access to any apps that you connected to Facebook.
Reason 2 Cambridge Analytica
We felt this one deserved a reason of its own; it’s not just another Facebook privacy issue. The whole deal with Cambridge Analytica was that not only did the company access Facebook user data, but it allegedly used it to influence the outcome of a huge political election.
Reason 3 Facebook’s API
OK, we admit that maybe we’re harping on this point too much, but, again, our beef isn’t just with Facebook’s privacy issues and what happened with Cambridge Analytica — it’s about the loosey-goosey attitude Facebook had with its API that set us up for these breaches in the first place.
API stands for application program interface, which is kind of like a door that lets software applications talk to each other and share information. It’s not nefarious — it’s how companies like Google and Facebook grow their products; they allow developers to write programs that essentially plug into their products. For example, the company Zynga created Words With Friends, which plugs into Facebook through an API, making Facebook even more valuable to word nerds around the globe.
Facebook has tightened its API policies, which you can read about in an official statement Facebook released in July 2018. Too little too late? We’ll see.
Reason 4 Facebook listens to your private conversations
We talked back in November about theories that Facebook listens to your private conversations and, yes Facebook denies eavesdropping. A handful of media outlets have tested listening conspiracies of Facebook, Google, and others and come up empty-handed (New Statesman, CBS News and Gizmodo, to name a few).
OK, so maybe Facebook is not recording your conversations — that would, after all create huge data files that would be impossible to store for 2.2 billion users — but it is monitoring what you do on the website (and beyond; see reason 6 below) so it can serve up advertisements that are relevant to you.
Some people find the targeted ads helpful, while others find them downright creepy.
Reason 5 Facebook tracks you around the web
Remember, Facebook is a for-profit business. As much as it likes us to think it’s a community-service-oriented business that connects people and enriches our lives, it is #initforFacebook. Big data = big bucks.
For information on Kim Komando on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks, visit her at Komando.com.