The need for social validation is a more or less a part of human psychology. The dopamine high that you get from receiving, maybe a single “like” from a person in real-time is quite different in its strength from a “100 likes” feeling on Facebook. The ongoing discussion since the first Facebook privacy issue has fired up to a whole new height.
The question at hand
Since the discovery of the most recent hack, which included data leakage of almost 50 million users and 40 more at risk, we’re facing a grave question. Should we allow this kind of manipulation to continue? Should there be any boundaries? Awareness is the key to survival and with so many controversies floating around; dependability is fast becoming a serious concern.
The newest threat
On September 25, the social network announced a new hack that had occurred, affecting almost 50 million accounts, allowing access to personal information and private data. In addition to that, Facebook officials said that “we’re also taking the precautionary step of resetting access tokens for another 40 million accounts that have been subject to a ‘view as’ look-up in the last year.” The hackers were able to see as well as manipulate the victim’s data, making this one of the biggest online heists to date. “The hackers were able to tap into API’s that is application programming interface that allowed to see components of user’s page, through the View As feature that allows you to see what your profile looks like to others”, according to Dan Patterson, senior producer at CNET. Around 90 million users were asked to log out and then log in again. As to the steps taken by Facebook in answer to this hack, the company ensured new agencies that “we’ve fixed the vulnerability and informed law enforcement.” To add fuel to fire, Facebook officials confirmed that this might have affected other third-party websites and apps like Spotify, Instagram and Tinder.
Deeper integration into our lives leads to higher vulnerabilities
All this happened due to a small breech in Facebook’s codes that were weak to begin with. For a company which boasts of being a tech giant in terms of its engineering, this came as a horrible shock to anyone. The bugs implanted to do the job were targeting simple codes. One was responsible for uploading birthday videos and the other two, quite ironically, were relevant to the improving the security. No company is virtually safe but why Facebook officials and Mark Zuckerberg are receiving such terrible lasing is because of the app’s impact on more than 2.2 billion lives worldwide. From simple birthday updates and event announcements to status updates, Facebook’s integration into our lives is so much so, that we were automatically expecting high security. The fact that the company never took it seriously enough is a haunting reality.
Addressing the dilemma
We live in a time where world’s most precious commodity is data. Social media apps like Facebook are gathering data and while connecting millions, these apps are also accessing personal information for example; where you live, where your family and friends live, your likes and dislikes. Mark Zuckerberg is currently under Federal Trade Commission’s investigation for distributing and/or selling user information and data. That is a serious offence and Mark has been avoiding the accusations. A simple sorry and an ideal world scenario is what he presented in front of the congress,” we didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake and it was my mistake and I’m sorry.” He kept beating about the bush when inquired about why he and Facebook should be trusted again after being sorry before. Even with the promise of creating stronger firewalls, this recent breach goes on to show that the company didn’t much care for it.
Point to ponder
This all goes on to show that we have been uninformed about so much that happens online. While giving the user free will to choose whatever they want to share, the data is in-fact, actually compromised. From advertisements to election campaigns, all the personality tests that everyone is so often taking, most of us never know if its harmless or not. Gathering of data to make ‘connectivity’ more real seems like a nice enough solution, especially for families and friends far away but that can change in an instant. The influence that social media has on our lives right now can spark real-life violence or avert wars. Whether Facebook realises this impact or not and to what intensity, it may take a long time to find out the truth.
Efforts by influential personnel
Early Facebook developers as well as celebs are trying to create awareness regarding this issue by giving out interviews, educating the masses about the why and how of social media;
“Considering that businesses are about exploiting psychology, and that is one where you want to be fast because people aren’t predictable and so we want to psychologically figure out fast how to manipulate you and give you that dopamine high”, said Chamath, a Facebook developer. He also explained that this is exactly what all the social media apps are doing. The possibility of this getting bad existed but he said that this was not what anyone thought would happen. “It literally is a point now that we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how the society works.” He was of the opinion that we should reign it in and “it is a point in time that people should hard break from it.”
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The Facebook addiction is so common among the younger generation that to imagine a life without social apps is nothing short of a death sentence. Real-time communication according to them is outdated but considering the massive security breaches, it is past time that all of us rethink our priorities. If Facebook wants to survive, the company needs to recalculate its strategy. With so much at stake, the future does not look promising.
Robert James, Content Writer, Comcast Specials
Image Credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock