A letter to Mark Zuckerberg

A letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook, we need to talk about our relationship.

Dear Mark,

We need to talk about our relationship. You’ve been there for me through the highs and lows of the last ten years. I’ve grown middle aged with you. In the past I’ve dismissed users talking down Facebook as techno fear but lately we’ve hit a rocky patch.

Monopoly versus utility

There are two billion people connected via your network. It’s incredibly powerful. I haven’t left because it’s become a utility in my life. It connects me with family and friends. It’s a beautiful thing but I’m beginning to feel vulnerable.

Business model

Facebook is free. I’m the product. You sell my data to people who want my attention. I get that. In fact I'd welcome an opportunity to have a better relationship with some brands but there’s got to be a clear value exchange.

Secondary use of data

Cambridge Analytica harvested data through an app. It used that data in ways that even your smartest technologists and ethicists hadn't foreseen. GDPR should help mitigate this - at least in Europe - but you’ve got to do more to protect your users and communicate what you're doing to keep our privacy safe.

Shadow profiles

My mum isn’t on Facebook but you’ve a profile of her because you’ve got a copy of my address book. Presumably you’ve also cross referenced the data from other family and friends. How does my Mum delete her profile?

Image recognition

You’re scaring me with photo tagging and Photo Review. Alerts prompting me of images of myself are pitched to me as a security feature. Please don’t ever turn on reverse image recognition.

Personal privacy violation

Please ensure no one can ever tag me in an image or post without my permission. It’s the easiest way to abuse an individual’s privacy.

Location, location, location

You suggest location tags when I create a post. You’ve started to prompt me with information about new places that I visit. You offer recommendations from friends. That's not familiarity, more starting to feel really creepy.

Sorry not sorry

You keep saying sorry. Forgiveness and learning is important in any relationship but you’ve been saying sorry to users since 2003. Regulation seems inevitable. Please think very carefully about the trade offs that you make with Governments.

I want to help make Facebook better. Let me know what I can do.

All the best,
Stephen

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