I’m Scared of Facebook and You Should Be Too
Halloween will soon be creeping around the corner, so naturally, I’ve been thinking about the things that terrify me the most.
To be honest, I don’t think I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m not scared of ghosts, I’m not scared of rollercoasters, I’m not scared of aliens invading, probably because wherever they would take me would be more fun than the state of our country right now.
But I would be lying if I said that there was nothing that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I’m scared of any insect that can fly, I’m scared of flying in planes and I’m terrified of Facebook.
It’s somewhat normal to be intimidated by people with lots of power, corporations with lots of money, businesses that have a lot of pull in the political world, things like that. Facebook is all of those things.
The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is 36 years old and is worth $92.9 billion.
Ninety-two point nine billion.
I’m 21-years old, and sometimes I think I’m doing pretty well in life. I’m finishing my senior year of college, I work multiple jobs and I’m still alive. But then I remember that Mark Zuckerberg is only 15 years older than me and could purchase the White House 23 times and still have money left over.
According to Business Insider, Mark Zuckerberg earned an estimated $1.7 million an hour in 2018. Wanna feel even worse? The average American household spending $1 is equivalent to Zuckerberg spending $845,000. If you’re already feeling sick to your stomach, don’t read the next three lines.
According to the Social Security Administration, it took Zuckerberg less than an hour-and-a-half to earn what the average American man with a bachelor’s degree will earn in his lifetime $2.2 million.
It might be a fair argument to say that I’m not scared of Facebook, I’m scared of Mark Zuckerberg. However, I would argue that I am equally scared of both.
I didn’t make a Facebook profile until the summer of 2018 when I decided to bite the bullet and finally enter my information into the black hole that is Facebook, essentially signing away the rights to my personal info with the click of a button.
To be fair, at first I wasn’t so scared of having my privacy invaded and all of my personal information ripped straight out of my brain and placed lovingly into a Russian hard drive. I didn’t even really think about it. I was more worried about seeing what embarrassing photos my family members had posted of me, having to interact with people I haven’t spoken to since elementary school and having to scroll through the clusters of pregnancy announcements from people I went to high school with.
Shortly after I set up my account, shit hit the fan.
In 2018, the New York Times published an article titled, “What You Don’t Know About How Facebook Uses Your Data.” Inside of this article were details about how, “Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, went to Capitol Hill to explain to members of Congress how the detailed personal information of up to 87-million Facebook users ended up in the hands of a voter-profiling company called Cambridge Analytica.”
It’s a pretty common viewpoint for most of us that having our personal information sold and distributed to anyone, especially political organizations, is not exactly an ideal situation.
At this point, I thought, “Hm. Maybe I should delete my Facebook account.”
After this scandal broke, many people did.
According to Forbes, 1 in 4 Americans deleted their Facebook accounts in 2018.
What scares me most about Facebook, is that when it comes to being targeted for theft of your personal data, it doesn’t even matter if you have an account or not.
During the 2018 scandal, Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, stated, “It doesn’t matter whether you have a Facebook account.”
“Through those tools, Facebook is able to collect information from all of us.”
If you have downloaded or made an account on Instagram, WhatsApp or Giphy, congratulations, Facebook owns them too! Therefore, Facebook also kind of owns you.
If this is freaking you out as much as it does me, I’m sorry. It gets worse.
According to Business Insider, not only does Facebook know everything you input into their website, but they are also tracking most of the other movements on your phone. What you ‘like’ on other apps and other apps you install are only a portion of what Facebook is capable of monitoring.
To be fair, most websites nowadays do this. But it doesn’t make me any less paranoid every time I google something embarrassing on my phone.
If you want to find out how to discover everything that Facebook knows about you here’s how. Disclaimer, you cannot blame me if you become increasingly paranoid about the world around us after finding out that Facebook knows things about you that you didn’t even know about yourself.
To see what Facebook knows about you, go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences.
There, you will be able to see a list of the things you have ‘liked” while using Facebook. Depending on your likes, it will show you what categories you will most likely respond to when you are given an ad that is similar to what Facebook thinks you will enjoy. Because Facebook also tracks what you do in other places on the internet, it will log every time you use Facebook to log into a different app. If you’ve used your Facebook account to sign up for Zillow, Reddit, Fandango, etc, they know about it and it will be listed here. Thus, why you might get ads about real estate, conspiracy theories, or new movie releases.
If you click on the ‘more button’ on the top right of the categories, you will then have access to pages and pages of information about yourself. Tabs will include categories like Fitness and Wellness, Education and Family and Relationships. After obtaining all of this data, Facebook creates its own profile for you that is basically a list of your characteristics and traits. By clicking on ‘Your Categories” in the top left corner, you can see your own media traits such as how many children it thinks you have, what their ages are, where you live, the ages of your parents, your political leaning, what kind of phone you have, etc.
Obviously, I could go on for pages and pages about how the internet is one of the most helpful yet dangerous devices ever created for mankind, but I think I’ve probably scared you enough.
I guess all that’s left to say is… Happy Halloween.