If 2018 was a year of scandals and turmoil for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, then surely 2019 will be the year that the world's most popular social media platform can look to rebound and regain the trust of its users, right? Considering the latest scoop from Michael LaForgia, Matthew Rosenberg, and Gabriel J.X. Dance of The New York Times, it looks like this statement couldn't be further from truth – and that 2019 will be yet another wild ride for the men and women behind this titanic social network.
So just what is going down with Facebook now? According to the assembled team of reporters from The New York Times mentioned above, Facebook is currently facing down a criminal investigation into its various data deals with some of the world's largest tech companies. In total, these deals cover Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and more than 150 other major players in the digital and tech worlds.
As far as why these deals are coming under scrutiny by federal prosecutors, it all comes down to consent, or the lack thereof. Essentially, Facebook forged agreements with these companies to allow them to see users' friends, contact info, and other sensitive or private data, often without consent from the end user.
If you'll remember, a similar non-consensual agreement allowed political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly access the data of 87 million users in advance of the 2016 presidential election. Investigations into that data breach are still ongoing by way of the U.S. Justice Department's securities fraud unit.
Jumping back to the current scandal, Facebook's apparently illicit deals with today's tech magnates have allowed for similar misuses of data. For instance, the Times' reporting team notes that Microsoft's Bing search engine used this data map out the friend connections of virtually every Facebook user without explicit consent, while Apple masked all indicators that its devices were collecting this data in the first place. As for Amazon, the web's largest retailer obtained name and contact info of individuals without consent via their Facebook friends who had opted into Amazon services.
Once you put all of this together, one thing becomes painfully clear: Facebook has obviously learned nothing from its previous scandals regarding consumer data and privacy. Additionally, it is also safe to say that the other major names in the digital world have no problem taking advantage of this lax approach to user rights.
Should Facebook face punishment by the U.S. Justice Department for this latest data transgression? How can the government rein in this misuse of consumer data and ensure that all players in the digital world play by the same rules when it comes to consumer privacy and information allocation?
To dig into these questions, and learn even more about the most recent misdeeds of Facebook, be sure to check out the full story from The New York Times on the other side of the link down below.