Mark Zuckerberg said in a late April conference call that Facebook wanted to explore ways to capture content from users’ private conversations on the site. As messaging apps like WhatsApp (which Facebook recently acquired) become more popular, it makes sense that the social media giant would target these conversations as the next great platform to conquer. However, as ThinkProgress wrote in a blog post this week, the privacy ramifications could be huge.
As the article notes, many social media users already share a lot of personal information about themselves publicly online. However, their private messages likely reveal even more, and the data contained in those messages could be used to help create a large picture of their activity online.
“There’s monetary value in conversation,” Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, told ThinkProgress. “What do new moms worry about, and how does that change over the lifespan? So [as a company] you’re really stepping into the shoes of your customer. And what better way to do that then look through private conversations?”
Users can prevent their data from being used this way by limiting the kind of information they make publicly available on Facebook and watching the subjects they talk about with Facebook Messenger. Indeed, the best and most effective way to stop information from falling into the wrong hands is pretty old-fashioned: don’t talk about it on social media at all.