It’s no secret that Facebook has an unparalleled amount of control over user data. While that’s usually a bad thing for our privacy, the social media giant has been dedicated to using its powers for good during the COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, Facebook recently announced a partnership with health researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to create a highly detailed, county-by-county map that tracks coronavirus symptoms across the country.
Because of its size and vast access to our data, Facebook is uniquely qualified to help in the fight against the ongoing pandemic. However, many users have expressed concern about a potential privacy overreach. Facebook seems to be aware of these fears, too; the company was quick to point out that all data used in the mapping project will be aggregated and anonymized.
“Facebook is uniquely suited to run these surveys because we serve a global community of billions of people and can do statistically accurate sampling,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post. “We do this in a privacy protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses — and Facebook only sees aggregated data.”
Of course, it’s a good thing that Facebook is using its power in the name of public health. The only issue is that the company has accumulated so much of our data in the first place.
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