These days, pretty much every major tech company is seeking new ways to collect and use your data. As a column in Salon this week notes, this is often done with stated goals that are noble and humanitarian, like Facebook’s mission to connect the world to the Internet or its recent Amber Alert feature. However, there’s a large potential dark side to Facebook’s thirst for more user information: our privacy becoming nullified.
“The engineering ideology of Facebook itself: Scaling and growth are everything, individuals and their experiences are secondary to what is necessary to maximize the system,” said former Facebook employee Katherine Losse, who wrote a memoir about her time as one of the site’s first employees. “To [Zuckerberg] and many of the engineers, it seemed, more data is always good, regardless of how you got it. Social graces—and privacy and psychological well-being, for that matter—are just obstacles in the way of having more information.”
Jacob Silverman, writing for Salon, says that Silicon Valley’s obsession with “Big Data” stands in stark contrast to its high-minded ideas about liberty and expression. It certainly feels that way to skeptical parties like Losse; even if Facebook’s goals are honorable, the way it goes about getting our information will likely always bother conscientious users concerned with their privacy.