As social creatures, human beings naturally yearn for meaningful connections. So, when social media platforms like Facebook emerged, people marvelled over how easy it was to interact with others. Facebook provided us with a tool that allowed us to instantly engage with people and build communities from anywhere in the world. Its purpose was to keep us connected—at least, that’s what we thought.
So, what is Facebook’s real purpose? In case you don’t already know—it’s purpose is to generate massive amounts of user data so they can collect and exploit it for profit. From the posts we like and share, to the photos we upload and comment on—this all equals big bucks for Facebook. Facebook isn’t a way to connect, it’s a way to collect (our information and lots of money).
Our information shouldn’t be used as a product for companies like Facebook to monetize for their own profit. If anyone should be profiting from it, it should be us, the users who created the data to begin with.
The protection and privacy of our online data should be a priority. We can’t trust companies like Facebook to protect our information. For example, the Cambridge Analytica scandal placed a spotlight on Facebook’s negligence and lack of concern over the privacy of its users.
If privatization is the concern, is there a tangible solution? One option is to completely remove yourself from platforms like Facebook (think of all the extra time you’ll have). Secondly, people can transfer over to apps like WhatsApp and Telegram to stay connected (these platforms contain no advertisements) but they are only temporary solutions to a much larger problem. The real change begins when governments and companies take action by fighting for user data protection and privacy.
Governments must clearly define Internet user rights and support new technologies that fight for the same cause. As for tech companies, they need to become data advocates and prioritize the security of our information. There is mistrust between Internet users and tech companies but they can regain trust by shifting their mindset—instead of adding new tech features, innovation should be steered towards user security.
Real and sustainable solutions require the decentralization and distribution of the Internet. Everyone has the right to private ownership and distribution of their data on their terms. Users should not have to act in accordance with guidelines laid out by private corporations when it concerns their own information.
If the purpose of social media is to build real social connections between people online, it serves no purpose for the likes of Facebook to collect our information. Instead, the architecture of a new Internet must be established to ensure our privacy and Internet freedom—your data depends on it!