OPINION: Facebook users need more control over data usage

By Steven Adamo

As more and more information is reported daily about Facebook’s use of unethical practices, many people are looking for alternatives without any luck.

During yesterday’s Senate joint-committee hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham asked CEO Mark Zuckerberg if he thinks his corporation is a monopoly, in which Zuckerberg replied, “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”

Facebook users are rightfully frustrated, and some are deleting their accounts. However, the only way to prevent Facebook from using user data to sell targeted ads is when the account is deleted.

Even then, a lot of people use Facebook to sign into a lot of other third-party services; make sure to replace these logins with your email address.

Targeted ads wouldn’t be possible without collecting user data, which makes it a valuable thing.

Facebook should make money as a corporation, but users should also educate themselves on the ways Facebook and other social media sites and smartphone apps use their data.

Facebook should also allow users the option to opt-in rather than opt-out.

During the testimony of Zuckerberg by Congress yesterday, senators brought up the idea of a paid-version of Facebook. However, why should people pay for a service that is already making so much money off their data?

In the digital marketplace, data is a valuable thing, but with Facebook’s revenue at $40.653 billion for 2017, Facebook and other social media companies should share the wealth with the users.

In an article published by Forbes, Facebook’s revenue grew to $19 billion in 2016, which was a 56 percent growth in revenue compared to the previous year.

Facebook generates most of its income by providing an advertising service that is designed to target or in some cases, exclude, specific groups of people.

It’s an effective tool for advertisers, but without regulations it has been used to cause harm, both foreign              and domestic.

In 2016, the website ProPublica.org published an article where it purchased an ad under Facebook’s housing category and was able to exclude people from seeing the ad based on ethnic affinity, which, when selling or renting a home, is prohibited by federal law.

In December of last year, a class-action suit was filed against major companies for placing ads on Facebook that excluded workers 40 years or older from being able to see the ads, this on top of the Cambridge Analytica and Russian troll-farming scandals.

Next month, the European Union will enact a new privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation.

Its goal is to ensure users understand what data is being collected as well as giving control to the user in how it is used.

Facebook is no longer the small start-up it once was. It is important that Congress enact similar laws for Americans.

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