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Facebook’s Massive Data Breach is Far More Troubling Than Reported

While Facebook has become a nearly intrinsic part of the day for many Americans, little regard is given for exactly what the platform is actually accomplishing.

At first glance, Facebook seems harmless enough.  In many ways, it is just an online community where grandmothers can check in on their extended family, where artists can promote their work, and where bands can let their fans know when the next gig is.  It’s innocuous enough, and that image is maintained through the network’s fearless leader, Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg is, for all intents and purposes, a bit of a Machiavellian character.  Always adorned with a non-threatening and frumpy hoody, the ginger-haired “dweeb” persona is more than likely a ruse designed to make Zuckerberg appear harmless…and it seems to be working.  In fact, the hoodie has become a bit of a “thing” in recent years as the media becomes aware of the social media magnate’s bizarre obsession with appearing “normal”.

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“It is June 2, 2010 and Mark Zuckerberg is sweating. He’s wearing his hoodie—he’s always wearing his hoodie—and he’s on stage and either the lights or the questions are too hot. His hosts are asking him about the privacy overreaches of Facebook. He’s uncomfortable. He’s mopping his brow. He apologizes. It’s very warm.

“’Do you want to take off the hoodie?’ asks Kara Swisher.

“‘I never take off the hoodie.’”

Yeah, Mark…that’s not weird at all.

Likely, the hoodie is a part of a campaign by the media magnate to appear harmless, given the scope of Facebook’s rampant malfeasance and privacy intrusions coming to light in recent years.

Make no mistake about it:  Zuckerberg is a shark with a guppy’s face.  The unassuming schtick is just that:  A schtick.  Facebook is an enormous piece of business, and the cherubic face of Mark Zuckerberg is simply a front.

Just how big is Facebook, in terms of business?  To put it succinctly, they are now affecting the entire stock market whenever a scandal appears on the horizon.

“Shares of Facebook fell another 5% Tuesday on the heels of the company’s worst day in four years. More than $50 billion has been wiped off Facebook’s market value this week.

 “Investors punished Facebook after Cambridge Analytica, which had ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, reportedly accessed information from about 50 million Facebook users to influence voters.

“The company’s slump has spread to the broader market, dragging down tech and social media companies. The S&P 500’s tech sector lost 2% Tuesday, with Twitter’s(TWTR) 9% tumble leading the way. Snap Inc. (SNAP) fell 4%.”

Of course, this sort of collateral damage makes sense.  Facebook is the first true social media stock, and having no predecessors will automatically make you a bit of a guinea pig in the archaic and untouched world of high finance.  The men and women who are trading Facebook don’t truly understand it.  They know the numbers, and they’ve certainly read a whole lot about the business end of the social media leviathan, but they are still slinging wood and stone harpoons into the murky depths, praying that they strike something.  There still isn’t a blueprint for this sort of financial nonsense.

What’s worse is that Facebook operates as Internet 2.0, especially for the in-betweener generations that don’t fully grasp the scope of the world wide web.  People are spending inordinate amounts of time on Facebook, and the company has purposefully designed their platform to be addicting.

“Are Facebook and other social media companies intentionally exploiting people’s psychological vulnerabilities to keep them addicted?

“You bet, says Sean Parker, who made a fortune as an early Facebook investor and its first president. In an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen this week, Parker said that he has become something of a ‘conscientious objector’ to social media. And he reflected with some regret on his own role in helping to mold the sort of company that Facebook would become.

“’The thought process was all about, “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”,’ he said. ‘And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you more likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop. … You’re exploiting a vulnerabilty in human psychology.’

“Parker went on: ‘I think the inventors, creators—it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom at Instagram, it’s all of these people—understood this, consciously. And we did it anyway.’”

You see, with a monopoly on your internet usage, Facebook has positioned themselves to be the leading name in data collection.  Only Facebook knows how you access Facebook, and, as such, they have a bit of a tactical advantage in gathering the sort of data that advertisers desire.

This week, these data collection worries came to the forefront after it was discovered that the Donald Trump campaign was able to gain access to Facebook’s massive cache of user-information during the 2016 election.

“Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that helped Donald Trump get elected president, amassed a trove of Facebook user data for some 50 million people without ever getting their permission, according to a report from the New York Times.

“Facebook is in another awkward situation. The company claims that it wasn’t breached, and that while it has suspended Cambridge Analytica from its service, the social giant is not at fault. Facebook contends that its technology worked exactly how Facebook built it to work, but that bad actors, like Cambridge Analytica, violated the company’s terms of service.

“On the other hand, Facebook has since changed those terms of service to cut down on information third parties can collect, essentially admitting that its prior terms weren’t very good.”

This horrific reality has set a federal investigation into motion as well.

“The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the use of personal data from 50 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica violated a consent decree the tech company signed with the agency in 2011, Bloomberg reported Monday.

“The probe follows a weekend of turmoil for the social media giant. Reports this weekend said the research firm improperly gained access to the data of more than 50 million Facebook users.

“‘We are aware of the issues that have been raised but cannot comment on whether we are investigating. We take any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously as we did in 2012 in a privacy case involving Google,’ a spokesman for the FTC said Tuesday.

 “Facebook said Tuesday it expected to receive a letter from the FTC with questions, but has not been informed of a formal probe.

“A violation of the consent decree could carry a penalty of $40,000 per violation, which could mean a fine conservatively estimated to be ‘many millions of dollars in fines’ for Facebook, The Washington Post reported over the weekend, citing a former FTC official.”

In addition, a number of house democrats are demanding answers as well.

“‘I want to know why this happened, and what’s the extent of the damage, and how they’re going to fix it moving forward,’ Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Tuesday when asked about the briefings. Facebook executives, she added, ‘aren’t coming yet, but they better come.’

“‘Eventually, Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify — he needs to be subpoenaed if he won’t do it voluntarily,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) “They can begin with some staff people, but it’s only the beginning.”

Could this finally be the downfall of Zuckerberg’s evil empire?  Or will the massive social site continue to impose on its users simply due to its monopoly?

One former employee of the firm in question has an ominous message regarding Facebook’s role in the information sector.

“Chris Wylie said the firm, Cambridge Analytica, secured personal data in order to learn about individuals and then used it to create an information cocoon to change their perceptions.

“‘This is based on an idea called “informational dominance,” which is the idea that if you can capture every channel of information around a person and then inject content around them, you can change their perception of what’s actually happening,’ Wylie said.

 “In an interview Monday on NBC’s ‘Today,’ Wylie said Cambridge Analytica aimed to ‘explore mental vulnerabilities of people.’ He said the firm ‘works on creating a web of disinformation online so people start going down the rabbit hole of clicking on blogs, websites etc. that make them think things are happening that may not be.’

“This idea of ‘information dominance,’ of propaganda, Wylie told The Guardian newspaper earlier, is the notion that if you can control all of the streams of information to your opponents, ‘you can influence how they perceive that battle space and you can then influence how they’re going to behave and react.'”

This, of course, falls perfectly in line with the left’s use of Facebook as a tool of political agitation.

If Zuckerberg and his hoodie ever make it to Washington for a sit down, this “dominance” idea could become quite a bone of contention for the congressional cabal that is already weary of Facebook’s power.

 

 

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