The former head of Operations of Facebook confesses he could not continue working there knowing what they were doing.
Sandy Parakilas’ job was to monitor the privacy of Facebook users’ data, to ensure that no third-party software was left with personal information.
He realized that developers outside the company could easily access user profiles. He exposed the problem to his superiors and because they did not pay any attention to him, he submitted his resignation.
Five years later, Facebook’s personal data leak scandal, came to light to reveal exactly what Para kills had warned his bosses about years earlier.
In 2016, before the news came to light, Parakilas published an article in The New York Times in which he asked for greater control over his former employer.
“I started to worry after the 2016 elections about how Facebook and other social networks handled the data and the impact they had on those elections,” explains Parakilas.
“I became much more critical after it was revealed in September 2017 that the Russian Internet Research Agency had bought a lot of ads that had reached more than 126 million people in the US during the elections,” he confesses.
What is most violent to Parakilas is not that agents external to Facebook can know more about the consumption preferences of social network users, but that they can use the information they have about you “to send you announcements and try to do something that maybe you would not want to do. Maybe they can convince you not to vote,” he said.
“I really could not continue working for one of the largest companies in which all this is happening,” he says.
“My hope is that we can address these problems and improve technology and, at some point, re-create healthier technology.”
Until then, this privacy expert recommends citizens to use common sense. He says people should never publish information that could compromise us in any way.
“If you want to share something with certain people, it’s probably best that you do it alone with those people in a private way,” he adds.
As I reported earlier, the case of Cambridge Analytica is the smallest problem when it comes to data privacy. There are worse things happening on the internet today, especially on Facebook.
Facebook is a hotbed for Illegal Harvesting of Information
Facebook has data of people who do not even have a profile on the platform, these non-existent profiles are called “hidden profiles”.
When questioned about “hidden profiles” Mark Zuckerberg explained that his company “collects data about people who have not registered on Facebook for security reasons to avoid reverse searches based on public information such as telephone numbers.”
When someone opens a new account, the page is responsible for collecting the contact data of that person, they are given thanks to WhatsApp or the list of contacts of a registered phone.
That information that Facebook has saved automatically serves to create the so-called “hidden profiles”.
Due to this, when a person makes a profile on the social network for the first time, suggestions of friends appear, which, in fact, he already knows.
Many activists and lawyers believe that, in fact, Facebook could also analyze the images of people who did not give their explicit consent.
Since 2015, thirteen privacy protection groups have filed lawsuits against the US Federal Trade Commission to support this thesis. Until now, these attempts had not been successful.
However, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the sensitivity to privacy seems to have changed and, in California, a federal judge, James Donato, has filed a class action lawsuit, potentially exposing the company to billions of dollars in damages.
With 2,200 million users Facebook has developed the largest database of faces in history and, with so many images available, has been able to train its facial recognition software, which is now one of the most accurate ever created.
Possibly, you will soon be able to recognize even a person’s state of health.
The company says it has no plans to make facial recognition data available to advertisers or external developers, but the distrust is real and understandable.