Facebook, as many of us already know, has a few dirty secrets. While it offers undeniable benefits, such as being able to easily communicate and stay up to date with your friends and family, and providing a platform to share your views, it does come with a price. Facebook has been widely known to spy on its users, for example, and participate in many other privacy invasions.
But how much do these things actually affect us? Are these practices enough to stop us from using it? The following 5 secrets may just help you decide.
1. Double Dealing
As many of us have already learned watching the popular 2010 film about the creation of Facebook, The Social Network, Zuckerberg stole a program designed by the Winklevoss brothers, originally called harvardconnnection.com. He was supposed to be helping them develop their social network, but instead borrowed many of their ideas for his own project, thefacebook.com. Perhaps worse than the theft itself, Zuckerberg later bragged of his deception and how he benefitted from it.
2. Emotional Contagion
In 2014 Facebook launched a secret experiment under Cornell and the University of California to intentionally manipulate the emotions of 689,003 of its users. Details and findings of this experiment were published in an article titled “Experimental Evidence Of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks,” which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
To summarize the study, it effectively showed how Facebook has the ability to deliberately make you feel good or bad by altering what you are seeing in your newsfeed — a conclusion that reveals the frightening amount of power Facebook holds and leads one to wonder how Facebook impacts us today.
The authors found that when they manipulated user feeds to reduce the positive expressions displayed by others, “people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred.”
The results of this study suggested “emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.” One has to wonder what they are now currently doing with that information that we are unaware of.
3. Facebook Messenger
In 2014 Facebook took advantage of the time people were spending on their smartphones by creating a separate messaging application that gave the company access to its users phones. The privacy settings in this app allow it to access text messages and call records, record audio and video, and read data such as email and phone numbers.
Even though Facebook assures us that it won’t use these permissions to spy on its users, the company was already caught tracking users that were fully logged out in 2011.
4. Under Review
It is easy to forget, or simply fail to consider, just how big an operation Facebook really is, and how much manpower is required to keep it running. Over 1.18 billion people use Facebook every single day and about 4 billion pieces of content need to be reviewed for what is considered objectionable material. Despite reaping huge profits, Facebook outsources this important and delicate task of reviewing content to third world workers making just $1 an hour.
Workers have reported having to see extremely disturbing content on a regular basis, such as “pedophilia, necrophilia, beheadings and suicides.” You may be thinking, it’s a dirty job and someone’s gotta do it, but suffering such emotional duress clearly warrants more appropriate pay.
Even more disturbing, the employees hired for this job are from outsourcing firms and are hired without any security checks. There is also nothing stopping them from downloading and saving any of the content they review.
5. Not So Private After All
You may or may not have noticed that Facebook’s privacy settings are complex and change frequently. Many believe that this is intentional, making it easier for the company to mine unprotected personal data. Facebook claims that any information it receives is stored in a black box, only used to enhance target advertising and serve more relevant content, yet a 2010 Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that Facebook was actually making the personal data of its users directly available to advertisers.
Take a look at this video Anonymous put together of these findings.
Does this change how you feel about using Facebook? Share your opinion in the comments section below!
In this new film called Prosperity, you can learn the ways in which companies are changing the game in order to change our world. CE's founder Joe Martino is in this film talking about CE's business practices.