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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

In the top ten of scandals

Por dbloggers

The Cambridge Analytics scandal, in which the data of about 80 million users was sold to the marketing company, is still fresh. It seemed to be a mismanagement and a "failure" security of Facebook, the most popular social network in the world. However, the "error" turned into green and multiplied by millions, because another new scandal has been uncovered. The New York Times has just made public a news report in which it exposes how Facebook offered information of users and their friends to phone manufacturers. It is speculated that around 60 producers of mobile devices benefited from the information provided by Facebook.

Alex Stamos was the scapegoat used by the company to justify the nearly 80 million profiles leaked to Cambridge Analytics; however, now everybody is wondering what would be Mark’s excuses for having offered large phone manufacturers the users’ records. Apple and Amazon are included among the companies that received the information from Facebook.

The American company has faced the accusations and has firmly rejected them. But did not the same thing happen with Cambridge’s? Why did not he inform it when he learned about it? According to various information sources Facebook collects using a program the personal information of users and their friends and sends them directly to these manufacturers, even when users think that their personal data will not be revealed.

It is no secret to anyone that the social network knows more about our addictions and tastes than any other person. Every click, search and like that we give is registered by an algorithm in a database. With our information not only Aleksandr Kogan, any other person can make a psychological profile or at least translate our preferences and tastes. While Mark Zuckenberg has testified before Congress that he knew nothing, no one will believe him even though he has sworn that the Cambridge Analytics scandal was a security breach.

Perhaps the directors of Facebook do not have a good memory or definitely the playful and placebo nature with which the social network started made Mark forget the many codes he wrote for his monster. In the information revealed by the NYT, it is made explicit the reference to software created 10 years ago to introduce the social network in mobile devices such as an iPhone. Is it a coincidence? It could be, but remember that still at that time Facebook was taking its first steps, while Apple with Nokia and BlackBerry disputed the mobile phone market. The funny thing is that Apple is still struggling for leadership. Who denies that Apple has taken advantage of the trends of users to consolidate in the market?

In all this drama a new character has come on the scene: Ime Archibong, vice president in charge of societies. The executive has stated that Facebook retained strict control of the technology, called application programming interface (API) and that it knows of no abuse committed by the companies with which it was associated. Archibong also said the information was only accessible when the user decided to share it with his friends. According to Archibong, APIs are different and varied, and none is similar to Cambridge Analytics’.

Really? Definitely, Facebook executives are very naive people or just do not know how to make excuses, because it is very suspicious that any large company is tempted to know what are the preferences of its users.

Facebook has been in the public eye since it revealed the leak of 80 million user profiles, which are considered were used to affect the electoral preferences of American voters. It was even known that Robert Mercer, a billionaire, financed the work of Cambridge Analytics; an average of six million dollars was paid to the British company during the campaign.

Now, although Archibong denies that APIs are not similar to those of the British company, the software that is suspected of disclosing confidential information to the companies was used by Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Microsoft and Samsung, which earn great amounts of money.

Paranoia or not, nothing that Facebook says seems true anymore, starting from the real fact that the Californian company does not produce anything but information. Since this is the information age, it is the fundamental raw material for the development of several companies and it gets even to decide who to elect for the president of the United States.

If before Coca-Cola filled our eyes with large red signs and adds everywhere, today Amazon and Apple do not need that type of advertising to equally seducing customers with their products. They already know our dreams, desires and needs. Why? Because big companies like Facebook and Alphabet provide them with enough material to conquer people with their products. Facebook lives on the information service it provides, they make money out of it; therefore, these APIs similar or not, still are a back door to people’s personal universe handled by big companies.

Living in the “big data” world exposes the population to companies that get rich with the personal information and more when there isn’t a direct supervision of how it is used. Was not that what happened with Cambridge Analytics? Even applications, however trivial they seem, warn customers that they will use personal data and users accept it. Why? Because people want to enjoy the digital world, and share and feel part of that great global village that Internet is.

Unfortunately, only a few know the risks of living in a digital era, people do not see the hidden codes that send relevant information to big companies. This is a truth that neither Archibong nor Zuckerberg or anyone else can hide. Nor the fact that Zuckerberg is one of the youngest billionaires in the world, precisely thanks to people who voluntarily "have fun" in that immense and cosmopolitan club that Facebook is.

So far and until the investigations conclude, Wall Street is showing signs of little confidence in Mark's company. Although the technology index rose as well as the values of several companies, Facebook fell by 0.1% to $ 193.67.