Social network giant Facebook had already ticked off plenty of conservatives with algorithms designed to censor and suppress posts along ideological viewpoints, but they recently ticked off a host of liberals as well for an entirely different reason.
That would be the revelation that reams of Facebook user data collected by the network had been shared with third parties — in this case a group known as Cambridge Analytica — who were alleged to have used the data to assist the Trump campaign in targeting voters … the same thing former president Barack Obama’s campaign was heralded for doing in 2012.
As a result of these twin scandals — censorship on the one hand and divulging personal data to outside parties on the other — it is no surprise that #deleteFacebook began to trend last week as people across the political spectrum took down their personal and business pages, such as billionaire innovator Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla fame.
Now tech giant Mozilla has followed suit and announced via a blog post that they would be suspending all paid advertising on Facebook until the platform “takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps,” at which point they would “consider returning.”
On the heels of that came a report from Reuters that auto parts retailer Pep Boys would be taking similar action in suspending their paid advertising on the network in light of the concerns over data privacy.
“We are concerned about the issues surrounding Facebook and have decided to suspend all media on the platform until the facts are out and corrective actions have been taken,” stated Danielle Porto Mohn, chief marketing officer of Pep Boys.
In addition to that, The U.K. Standard reported that Sonos — an American electronics company that has developed and manufactures “smart” speakers and audio systems — will match that and go the additional step of pulling their advertising from all social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google.
Furthermore, they have taken down their social account pages on Facebook and Instagram in a show of solidarity with those who’ve raised concerns over the data privacy issues.
“We are concerned by the recent revelations about Facebook and the exploitation of its platform,” said Sonos in a statement. “We believe that all people have the right to know how their data is being collected and used, and that each of us in the technology sector has an obligation to honor the commitments we make to our customers’ privacy.”
“Big digital platforms offer us incredible opportunities to personalize and contextualize the advertising we deliver to you,” the statement continued. “But with the power of those capabilities comes a responsibility that can’t be neglected.”
Their decision to remove paid advertising from not just Facebook, but the other major social networks as well, reveal the largely unspoken notion that all of the networks have played fast and loose with their protections of personal user data.
“Now is the time to have the hard discussions and to support those who drive things forward in an effort to make us all better technologists and more educated consumers of technology,” the Sonos statement added.
As such, in lieu of paid advertisements on social networking platforms, Sonos has instead made a donation to a forthcoming digital rights conference known as RightsCon, which hopes to bring concerned activists and tech companies together to find a means for creating a “healthier tech ecosystem,” presumably one in which personal data is protected.
“For us, this isn’t about one social network or advertising platform;” stated Sonos. “It’s an acknowledgement of the work we all have to do — Sonos included — to enable our industry to play a productive, empowering role in our society, in a way that works for everyone.”
It will be interesting to see if any other major tech companies and retailers will follow the lead of Musk, Mozilla, Sonos and Pep Boys, and also pull their advertising dollars away from the social media giant that is Facebook.
If Facebook has any sense, they will not ignore the wrath of a scorned market or exploited users who’ve had enough of their personal data being surreptitiously shared with third parties … despite what may be included in the fine print legalese of terms and conditions that nobody really reads before accepting.
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