NOV 3, 2017:
For better or worse, Facebook has been all over the news as of late. Headlines have included: ‘America doesn’t trust Facebook’ (The Verge), ‘Facebook thinks so little of us’ (Quartz), and the more positive, ‘You can now order food right from the Facebook app’ (CNBC).
All in all, these stories reveal how much the social networking site has permeated our everyday lives and collective consciousness. Here, we take a look at the biggest impact Facebook has on individuals and internationally right now…
How much does Facebook really know about you?
First of all, there are the personal details that every user voluntarily enters when creating a profile – from your full name to your birth date and relationship status. But Facebook also asks you things like major life events and general interests to help target ads towards you. The creepier stuff includes things that aren’t submitted readily, such as whether you carry a balance on your credit card. How does Facebook get this info? It tracks your activity on the site, your personal devices, and your location settings, as well as every other website you visit. It also works with companies like Epsilon and Acxiom who gather info from government records, warranties, surveys, and commercial sources. See the Washington Post’s 98 data points that Facebook uses for more info.
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Did Facebook help Trump win the election?
Whatever your political stance, we’re all affected by the way the current administration is running the country. Now it seems Facebook played a major role in deciding which party made it into the White House. As a recent study shows how social networks helped close the gap between Trump and Clinton in the 2016 election reveals that ‘embedded tech employees took on responsibilities such as targeting hard-to-reach voters and coming up with responses to probable lines of attack during debates,’ writes Vanity Fair. The Clinton campaign turned down the assistance, while the Trump camp used it extensively – and for a handsome fee. ‘The Trump campaign spent $70 million on Facebook alone.’
Will Facebook kill all future Facebooks?
With all this power and information, what would it mean to live in a world dominated by Facebook? Wired published an article this month reflecting on whether this is already our reality. Since 2012, the platform has ‘repeatedly copied or acquired social-media apps that gain traction’ to beat its competitors. ‘Many observers believe Facebook is bucking Silicon Valley convention,’ the writer explains, ‘where competition is expected but “innovation” is sacred.’ This creates a ‘void of creativity’, a lack of investors, and therefore less diversity in products and fewer ‘counter-examples of how things could work.’ Of course, content creators have a symbiotic relationship with Facebook, but will its monopoly in this industry prevent us also from using social-media apps with the same creative freedom?
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