The More Internal Documents Are Released From Facebook, the Better Staying Away From It Looks

Jirapong Manustrong/

Facebook has had data problems for years. They have known this and so has the American public. From over mining for data, to not knowing what data it is giving to third-party apps, to not being able to adequately provide a Senator the same data requested by Facebook while testifying before a Senate committee.

Four years ago, the news of the Cambridge Analytics data theft from Facebook users via a third-party app was making the news. People were outraged that Facebook didn’t know and that was seemingly acceptable to American elected officials. While CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced many questions about it, he was handled with kid gloves over the whole situation by the FBI, SEC, and the Justice Department.

At the time they claimed that they were blissfully unaware of what Cambridge Analytics was up to with this third-party app, or that it was stealing data. The downfall of that excuse is that they are still running on the same mindset now. A mindset that has put the data of every Facebook user at high risk of being compromised.

Leaked internal memos talk about their complete lack of knowledge of how the data is mined or stored. This poor oversight is something that is making numerous other countries very nervous, especially as they introduce even stricter data privacy regulations. This is something the US frequently avoids real discussion on because of their actions to watch US citizens as well as their close connections with Facebook for the data.

This data seems to be coming from somewhere, and they should be able to figure it out, but they just can’t. As the memo states “We do not have an adequate level of control and explainability over how our systems use data, and thus we can’t confidently make controlled policy changes or external commitments.” This statement alone explains why data is such a problem. They can’t even agree not to use specific data but “this is exactly what regulators expect us to do.” Should they find a way to comply engineers estimate that it would ultimately “require additional multi-year investments.”

Making an argument about it being a multi-year investment is something they said four years ago, and yet it is something they have yet to accomplish. Getting the data identified and labeled should be incredibly simple. Then again once you take a look at the app store on your smartphone it all makes sense. Apps are being licensed to log in via Facebook everywhere. This means no real oversight into who is asking for the data, what data they are asking for, or how it will be generated.

Being this incompetent at your job and how you manage the goods your company produces would have almost any other CEO released from their post and exiled away from their genre. Additionally, it is inconceivable that a company can produce data but not know how they are doing it. Every other company from an NFT startup to a restaurant, to an all-natural cannabis farm, know how they make their products. They know when and where it is generated, and yet Facebook cannot figure this out for themselves.

Lines of code would certainly take a long time to analyze, but Facebook has the budget to employ hundreds or even thousands to analyze the data, find the holes, and fix time. They have the budget to ensure there are no more of these data problems, and yet they won’t spend a red cent on the problem at all. Until they fix these problems many people are threatening to leave Facebook behind. As new social media platforms are being attempted daily, their time could be up sooner than later.