Quote of the Day

Over the past year I have repeatedly asked Facebook for its stance on bulk harvesting and research use of its users' data. Last February I asked the company if it had comment on the mass harvesting of data by commercial enterprises for political purposes and whether it had any policies prohibiting the use of personality quizzes or other apps that bulk harvested profiles. In June I asked it, in light of all of the ways Facebook itself was conducting research on its users, whether it might consider offering users the right to opt-out of having their personal data exploited by Facebook for research. In September, in the aftermath of the controversial 'gaydar' study that claimed to be able to estimate someone's sexual orientation from their photo and used a large volume of harvested Facebook data, I asked whether the work's mass harvesting of profile photos was of concern to the company. Just last month I asked whether Facebook was planning to request that large holders of data harvested from the platform delete their archives or whether it planned to request that bulk Facebook datasets available for download be restricted to university researches and exclude commercial researchers. Not to mention countless other requests for comment about various Facebook research use of private user data. In every case the company's response was silence.
— Kalev Leetaru at Forbes, in a must-read piece entitled "Why Are We Just Finding Out Now That All Two Billion Facebook Users May Have Been Harvested?"

Leetaru notes that the big story is not Facebook's acknowledgement that "likely the entirety of Facebook's two billion public profiles (and quite a few private profiles) are archived in repositories all over the world by academics, companies, and criminal actors, not to mention countless governments...but rather why the company took until yesterday to confirm it."

Meanwhile, Alex Hern at the Guardian reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn't planning on stepping down anytime soon, saying: "I still think that I'm going to do the best job to help run it going forward."

He's also apparently not going to hold anyone else accountable, either: "I'm not looking to throw anyone else under the bus for mistakes that we've made here."

Mistakes. Oh.

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