Zuckerberg Promises Privacy Overhaul

Embattled Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under the microscope ever since the revelation that his company shared users’ data without their knowledge.
Since then, he has proposed improvements to privacy on the multi-billion dollar platform, yet the company continued to fail to protect its users’ information in multiple incidents as recent as last week.
During Facebook’s quarterly earnings call earlier this year, Zuckerberg proposed merging WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram to create a platform that he claims will better encrypt people’s information. Moreover, he wants to allow users to decide how long the content they post exists for others to see, similar to his rival app, Snapchat, owned by Snap Inc.
Zuckerberg says he wants to protect the privacy of users in countries that gather personal information by refraining from building data centers there. Countries like China may block Facebook for this reason, but Zuckerberg says the company is willing to sacrifice its presence in these nations for user security. Zuckerberg said, “We’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”
These changes may hurt Facebook financially. Previously, the company sold users’ data for targeted online advertising, similar to how Youtube tailors its advertisements based on what users watch. In the past, Facebook has allowed over 150 companies access to users’ private messages, including Netflix, Spotify, and Microsoft.
When Cambridge Analytica acquired access to information from over 50 million Facebook users to influence the 2016 United States presidential election, Zuckerberg was called to testify in front of the Senate. Since then, he has faced demands from people around the world wanting to know why their information had not been kept private. In his full statement regarding this event, Zuckerberg said, “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”
Zuckerberg has also called for governments to assist in regulating the internet to prevent privacy breaches for political gain from reoccurring. Zuckerberg wants to pursue a platform that adheres to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, creating a global framework to protect people’s privacy. He said, “It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies, and governments going forward.”
Students at the school do not seem overly concerned about ensuring the security of their data on social media. Mr. Kevin Warenda, director of information technology services said, “I feel like [students] don’t necessarily care so much about the privacy or understand the long term impacts of the question.”
Jack Johnson ’22 uses Instagram, which Facebook acquired in 2012. He said, “Nobody at Hotchkiss is going to stop using social media just because [Facebook] sells their data. I don’t think that the student body here cares enough about data privacy to do that, and I don’t fault them for that.”
Time will tell whether Facebook and its subsidiaries intend to make substantive changes or whether users will not ultimately demand greater security for their private information.