Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg got into an awkward exchange with a top Democratic senator on Tuesday when the lawmaker began asking him personal questions.
During the blockbuster hearing on Capitol Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin asked Zuckerberg, “Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?”
“Um,” Zuckerberg said before a long pause. “No.”
The audience and panel of senators erupted in laughter at Zuckerberg’s hesitancy to answer the question, but Durbin used it to make a point about personal privacy, which was the focus of the joint hearing between the Senate’s Judiciary and Commerce committees.
“If you’ve messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?” Durbin asked.
“Senator, no, I would probably not choose to do that publicly here,” Zuckerberg said.
“I think that might be what this is all about — your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you’d give away in modern America,” Durbin said.
http://www.businessinsider.com/dick-durbin-asks-mark-zuckerberg-what-hotel-he-stayed-at-2018-4 (emphasis added).
My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
Zuckerberg allowed a full eight seconds to lapse and grimaced and chuckled before he finally said he admitted that he wouldn’t share the name of the hotel he stayed at the night before. http://metro.co.uk/2018/04/11/mark-zuckerberg-got-flummoxed-asked-share-something-private-7456950/. We’re talking about just the name here, not even the room number. Yet, Zuckerberg was unwilling to share that information while his company (Facebook) not only scanned your postings and data-mined them, but sold and shared them with complete strangers who used that information to manipulate you, to target you for ads and misinformation.
(To be clear and to be fair, Facebook claims it gives you control over your data, and you can opt out. However, such controls are often buried in obscure provisions under mounds of legalese that would bore most people to tears and cause most people’s eyes to glaze over. So, did Facebook effectively give you control, or only the illusion of control?
This strategy is nothing new. At the Enron of Healthcare, despite insurance laws requiring insurance policies to be written in clear and easy to understand language, they buried and obfuscate critical provisions such that they were able to tell policy holders certain benefits were not covered when, according to internal emails, they knew full well those benefits were covered. They knew full well few people have the time, resources, and ability to fight them. They bank on that.)
How is that right? Does Zuckerberg care about you, one of the billions of Facebook users? Does he give damn about your privacy, your protection? No. His actions speak much louder than his words: he wouldn’t share with the public even the name of his hotel, yet he mined all of your posts and sold them to complete strangers. He cares about himself, not you.
That’s reality. Businesses and business owners are there to make a profit for themselves. That’s their primary motive. If their interests and yours should align, then that’s a bonus. However, if their interests and yours diverge, know that they will protect their business interests and profit motives first and foremost. Only fools think otherwise. Thus, be not surprise that a businessman sold you out for profit. You were a fool to think he wouldn’t.
Don’t be fools. Never trust a business or businessman to have your best interest at heart regardless of what he says. He only has his best interest at heart. Remember that always.
Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, said he’s left Facebook on account of its data collection practices. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2018/04/08/apple-co-founder-steve-wozniak-says-hes-leaving-facebook/497392002/. Others have also. You may wish to consider doing similar.
You have a voice. Use it. Vote with your feet and/or your wallet as appropriate.
Remember, you are responsible for teaching others how to treat you. If you let them abuse you, then you must accept responsibility for allowing it — and they for their misdeeds.
Now, let me be clear that I’m not a fan of Facebook. I dislike it for several reasons.
First and foremost, studies have found Facebook use positively correlates with depression. See, e.g., http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069841; https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/21st-century-aging/201308/facebook-depression; https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/04/30/study-links-heavy-facebook-and-social-media-usage-to-depression/#385bdfa64b53; https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/how-facebook-makes-us-unhappy.
Second, Facebook creates echo-chambers and encourages users to limit their exposure to the world. For example, studies show that more than 60 percent of Americans get their news from Facebook and Twitter. http://www.niemanlab.org/2015/07/new-pew-data-more-americans-are-getting-news-on-facebook-and-twitter/. The danger is that the algorithm for those social media sites limits and tailors what they post to each user’s based on the likes and preferences of that user. In other words, you will only see and hear what you want to see and hear. Echo-chamber.
The danger of echo-chambers cannot be over stated. For example, America’s first attempt at creating a union under the Article of Confederation failed because the states balkanized. Today, the nation is fractured because people balkanize by confining themselves to silos of only like-minded individuals. In other words, they limit themselves to echo-chambers. Facebook plays a significant role in creating this phenomenon.
We while away the hours with phantom “friends” on Facebook instead of walking down to the local park to hang out with our neighbors, or to the local outdoors market and expose ourselves to the wide variety of people who inhabit our communities, our country, our planet.
Groupthink causes all sorts of problems. It can whip us into a frenzy because outside perspectives are disallowed or discouraged — they are not part of the echo-chamber. Groupthink encourages mob mentality, and that is never a good thing.
No, my sons, limit your use of, and exposure to, Facebook and other social media. It’s a tool. Use and control it, instead of allowing it to control and use you.
As I have said before, limit your screen time to no more than a couple of hours a day — including TV, computer, smart phone, video games, etc. Step outside. Enjoy the fresh air, grass, and people. Embrace life. Don’t live vicariously through others.
Now, turn off the computer and grab your brother to go for a walk around the neighborhood as we used to do.
All my love, always,