Things don’t look good for the Social Media(D) giant…
Congressman David Cicilline(D-RI) is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. He believes that there are a whole bunch of reasons that the Federal Trade Commission should investigate Facebook. In an opinion piece in the New York Times, he listed his reasons, and boy, are they compelling.
1. Facebook’s Duplicitous Data Mining
First, Rep. Cicilline cites the Cambridge Analytica scandal which allowed the political consulting company to ‘exploit the personal information of up to 87 million users, to obtain data that would help the company’s clients “fight a culture war” in America.’
It seems that the extent of the data mining that Facebook was involved in with Cambridge Analytica was just the tip of the iceberg. This appears to be a pattern of behavior by Facebook to allow outside apps to collect data on unsuspecting users (and non-users!) without their permission.
It has paid teenagers to spy on their behavior, even asking users “to screenshot their Amazon order history page,” according to the website TechCrunch. The company has secretly collected highly sensitive data through the back doors of other apps, such as ovulation trackers, to target ads at users “even if no Facebook account is used to log in and if the end user isn’t a Facebook member,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
And in its pursuit of dominance, Facebook gave at least 60 device makers direct access to its users’ data. Those actions are under criminal investigation, The Times reported last week. Facebook has also engaged in campaigns to obstruct congressional oversight and to smear and discredit critics — tactics reminiscent of the big tobacco playbook.
They handed over users’ private messages to Netflix and Spotify — but didn’t want to be investigated about this kind of behavior.
2. Facebook’s Response To The Data Mining Scandals Is The Same — Nothing Ever Changes
Rep. Cicilline has called for an investigation into whether Facebook has violated anti-trust laws because, as he writes, ‘nothing changes.’
After each misdeed becomes public, Facebook alternates between denial, hollow promises and apology campaigns.
But nothing changes.
That doesn’t exactly sound like contrition.
Amen, brotha, amen!
3. Facebook Has Violated FTC Rules — Repeatedly
Despite the frequent complaints to the FTC about privacy concerns regarding Facebook, the social media giant was allowed to grow and swallow up other apps in order to collect even more data on unsuspecting consumers.
For years, privacy advocates have alerted the commission that Facebook was likely violating its commitments under the agreement. Not only did the commission fail to enforce its order, but by failing to block Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, it enabled Facebook to extend its dominance.
Facebook is like an invisible data collecting octopus, and it’s been allowed to grow and grow and grow…
4. The FTC Is Facing A ‘Credibility Crisis’
The Federal Trade Commission has let Facebook’s behavior slide for far too long.
How the commission chooses to respond to Facebook’s repeated abuses will determine whether it is willing or able to promote competition and protect consumers. If the commission does conclude that Facebook has violated the consent order, how it fixes this problem through a legal remedy will be a test of its effectiveness. The commission has the authority to impose substantial fines on Facebook. Given that the corporation had more than $55 billion in revenue in 2018alone, even a fine in the low billions of dollars will amount to a slap on the wrist, a mere cost of doing business.
Moreover, because Facebook is a repeat offender, it is critical that the commission’s response is strong enough to prevent future violations.
Facebook has seemed to think that mere laws are beneath them.
5. Facebook’s Monopolistic Ambitions
Facebook has used its muscle to bully smaller platforms out of existence or using its massive reach to cut off rivals.
With Facebook seeming to put the priority on revenue over the privacy of users, he’s absolutely right.
The ‘free’ platform is acquiring other apps to keep itself on the top of the social media heap.
There is also mounting evidence of anticompetitive conduct by Facebook that may warrant scrutiny by federal antitrust enforcers. For example, the social media goliath has reportedly systematically spied on its rivals, giving it valuable information on how people used competitive products…
…Facebook also appears to have used its dominance to cripple other competitive threats by cutting them off from its massive network. In 2013, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, personally approved the company’s decision to block Vine, a fast-growing rival, from a critical Facebook feature, to the advantage of its own online video service…
…Facebook recently announced plans to merge Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook into one integrated product, furthering its monopoly power.
Source: New York Times
As more and more users ditch Facebook for other social media platforms, it’s the right time to look into their consistently bad behavior.
Better late than never, I guess.
by Doug Giles
Doug Giles, best-selling author of Raising Righteous And Rowdy Girls and Editor-In-Chief of the mega-blog, ClashDaily.com, has just penned a book he guarantees will kick hipster males into the rarefied air of masculinity. That is, if the man-child will put down his frappuccino; shut the hell up and listen and obey everything he instructs them to do in his timely and tornadic tome. Buy Now: Pussification: The Effeminization Of The American Male
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