HAlf 1 billion Facebook user accounts stolen. Compromised personal information. The phone numbers and dates of birth circulating on the Internet are used for God knows what. And for four days, from Facebook’s corporate headquarters, nothing but silence.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. This week, reports of a new massive Facebook breach and everything related to it, from Facebook’s denials of the words “data” and “breach” to its repeated refusal to answer journalists’ questions, has been a strange one. reminiscent of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Three years later, “Cambridge Analytica” stands for Big Data Abuse, Facebook has been fined billions of dollars for failing to protect user data and … nothing has changed. If ever there was a time to understand how deeply all accountability systems have failed and continue to fail, this is it.
Last week, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, admitted on The Verge website that the Cambridge Analytica scandal had “shaken Facebook to the ground.” And yet he has learned nothing. It has paid no real price (the record $ 5 billion fine it paid to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is literally priceless to Facebook), suffered no real consequences, and did not respond to any questions about its involvement. executives.
That impunity was on the horizon this week. News of the latest breach, out of 533 million person data, fell over a holiday weekend; Facebook responded only by saying that it was “old data” and that the problem had been “found and fixed in August 2019”, an absurd statement given that the data had just been downloaded from the Internet, and clearly not all of them had been fixed.
These are the stocks of a company that you know you can get away with. And it does it repeatedly. On Tuesday morning I sent a series of questions to your press office: When was the problem first discovered? Did Facebook inform regulators (as required by US, UK and EU law)? If so, when? Had you informed users? But Facebook did not respond. He has not responded yet. Use silence to speed up reports, a strategy that works. Pass “exclusive” scoops to favorite reporters and hamper the rest. Not only me. At an impromptu data breach event, journalists from Cabling, Political Y Business Insider revealed that he also declined to answer her questions.
Instead, he posted a blog post, The Facts In The News Reports About Facebook Data, Saying That It Wasn’t Hacked, That The Data Was “Collected.” He later confirmed that he did not intend to inform users because he was not “sure” who they were, the users “could not fix the problem” and, anyway, “the data was publicly available”. What do you do when a billion dollar company with 2.8 billion users treats the public with blatant contempt? When will you not answer basic journalistic questions? When does he even ignore the regulator? The Irish Data Protection Commission, its main regulator in Europe, issued a direct statement saying it did not receive “any proactive communication” from Facebook.
It is this culture of impunity that makes Facebook such a dangerous company. Even where there are laws, operate above them. There will be massive class action arising out of this violation. And that? It will take years and it’s just money anyway. Money! As if Facebook cares. The Irish Data Protection Commission could act. But it will? Enforcement is tough, regulators respond to pressure, and in a news cycle that every day brings in new reports from Facebook that either allows Nazis or drives teens to suicide, this story barely made its way.
The U.S. Congress has finally realized the danger of disinformation, but Facebook’s disinformation about Facebook is toxic and continues unabated, since its shiny new Board of Oversight, a $ 130 million exercise for evade responsibility, up to the estimated 7 million dollars annually in which it invests. his own pet Lord Haw Haw, also known as Sir Nick Clegg.
War is not peace. Love is not hate. And the “facts” that Facebook published this week about the data breach are not. They are dangerous, irresponsible, at best half-truths designed to allow you to get away with it, as you do over and over again.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism