Summary of the CaseHaving attracted millions of users over the years, Facebook has grown into one of the biggest social networking sites on the internet. This is welcomed news for many and a manifestation of how the world has embraced technology. However, it is how Facebook handles personal information of its users that continues to raise eyebrows. A lack of privacy on Facebook is evident from the way the company handles its users’ information. The company has had to face numerous lawsuits and attempted settlements stemming from some of its services such as Sponsored Stories Services that were found to violate users’ privacy. These privacy challenges however emanate from Facebook’s business model that heavily relies on advertisements as a means of making revenue. This shows that the lack of privacy on Facebook is not based on inability by the company but instead a lack of goodwill to do so. The more the company knows about each of its users, the more accurate they can be in serving advertisements and consequently collect a huge price from it. This is why the company encourages its users to share more personal information which is then used with or without the user’s consent for Facebook’s financial benefit.
Online advertising has become very lucrative with companies making billions in revenue from it. However, a new trend has come into place where ads are tailored for specific consumers through the use of a number of algorithms following collection of a set of data used to determine which ad fits a certain demographic (Nill & Aalberts, 2014). This is Online Behavioral Advertising where companies use a person’s online behavior such as the kind of website frequented for them to know what interests you. Where certain behaviors occur frequently, a pattern is derived and then used for various purposes some of which unknown to the consumer (Vishwanath, 2014). However, this strategy comes with a set of problems mainly security breaches. Like in the case with Facebook, majority of users are aware that their activities online are tracked and are against online tracking but at the same time are unaware of how to opt out of it. The question then of who should bear the brunt in terms of regulation arises. Transparency should take the fore front in such situations. It is the responsibility of Facebook not to share personal information of its users to third parties. In a situation where it is necessary for them to do so, it would only be ethical if they seek consent from users first. Only then will they gain the full confidence and trust of users. The terms and conditions accepted before signing up are not good enough.
- Aalberts, R., Nill, A., & Poon, P. (2016). Online Behavioral Targeting: What Does the Law Say?. Journal Of Current Issues & Research In Advertising, 37(2), 95-112. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10641734.2016.1171177
- Nill, A., & Aalberts, R. (2014). Legal and Ethical Challenges of Online Behavioral Targeting in Advertising. Journal Of Current Issues & Research In Advertising, 35(2), 126-146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10641734.2014.899529
- Vishwanath, A. (2014). Habitual Facebook Use and its Impact on Getting Deceived on Social Media. Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, 20(1), 83-98. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12100