In addition to snooping on its users and storing their personal data in the guise of legally verbose privacy and consent agreements, Facebook has also been found guilty of emotionally manipulating its users, running psychological experiments on them and in a recent case it has accepted its role in inciting violence against the minority community in Myanmar.
Facebook has around 500MB data on an average user which is equivalent to approximately 400,000 word documents. It monitors user activity not only on Facebook but other websites that its users access. All this data is mapped for patterns and sold to advertising companies which then run targeted campaigns. This behavioural mapping has led to the plethora of fake news on the Facebook platform. And though Facebook claims to be ‘invested in combating fake news’ it has been infamous for suspending user accounts and pages and at times hiding posts from activist and rights based groups against authorities.
While Facebook’s role in manipulating U.S. elections is being probed after data breach from election consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica came to fore, it is a reality that Facebook divulges sensitive user data to governments. According to a report released by Facebook, Indian government demanded user data of 13,752 accounts in the first quarter of 2017 a 9,853 times hike from 2016. A similar trend has been observed in the U.S. and France where right wing leaders have rose to power.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Prescilla Chan together started Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in 2015. Its website claims it ‘is a new kind of philanthropic organisation’ which it indeed is, as it a for-profit limited liability company and invests heavily on lobbying against net-neutrality and laws defending user’s privacy. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative had faced flak when it lobbied against net-neutrality in India through its ‘free-access’ program in rural India in 2016. It has since dropped similar programs in African countries.