Give us our data back

Give us our data back

I met an avid Facebooker the other day. He looked unhappy. I remember that he posted stuff on FB with a carefree nature over all these years and was...

I met an avid Facebooker the other day. He looked unhappy. I remember that he posted stuff on FB with a carefree nature over all these years and was surely among those 50 million people whose data got leaked and privacy breached. Serves him right! ‘Sorry to hear,’ I said in a low voice. ‘What with all these data leaks and privacy breaches you must be worried.’ He nodded. ‘I did not expect this,’ he said.

‘I trusted FB to make my world more connected. Look what they have done!’ ‘What have they done?’ I asked. ‘Did FB use your data to do something illegal or dangerous?’ I asked. He sighed. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘Even if FB did I wouldn’t know. All I did was like and post like there was no tomorrow. Do you know anything about what they did?’

I jumped in to help him which is what I do best. ‘Dude, from whatever I know FB analysed all your moves and found out all about your behaviour - what you like, what you don’t, who you know and why,’ I burst out. ‘They say FB can manipulate you to do anything including voting Presidents into office or buy stuff you don’t want.’ I was breathless with excitement. ‘I don’t care about Presidents and shopping,’ he said curtly. ‘What I want to know is if FB has something to do with my family and friends. I don’t see their posts anymore. I don’t know what’s happening in their lives – if they are ok even.’

‘Maybe after FB analysed your behavioural and psychographical data, it perhaps did not match that of your family and friends,’ I suggested helpfully. ‘Maybe FB put you all into different psycho groups.’ He looked concerned. ‘You mean FB psychographically separated me from my family and friends?’ he asked.

‘And grouped me with nut cases like my ex-brother in law and that crazy aunt of mine? All I see these days are their posts. Will I see my family on FB again?’ ‘It’s possible,’ I said. ‘But listen. This is bigger than your family, friends or brother in law. This is about mass manipulation - individually. Tomorrow FB can become President of the Universe for life and we would all have voted for it without knowing it!’
‘I don’t care,’ he said. ‘I have nothing to gain or lose from that.’ I was confused. ‘Then what are you worried about?’ I asked.

‘Fair play,’ he said. ‘I am sending a request to FB to share my data with me also. So I can have the pleasure of manipulating myself with my own data – whenever FB is not of course. One must be fair.’ I appreciated his honesty and sense of fairness. ‘I also want FB to connect me with my family and friends. We have our differences – behaviourally and psychographically - but they are the connections I want.

Not some psychos whose posts keep coming up.’ ‘I can understand you wanting your data to manipulate yourself,’ I said. ‘But getting FB’s information about your family and friends is unethical right?’ He was agitated. ‘Who says so? It’s not like we didn’t manipulate one another before FB. And what are close connections for? FB should help us use technology to manipulate our connections quietly. What fun! As long as there are no whistle blowers of course, to take all the fun out of it.’

He looked at me suspiciously as he posted his request on FB. I liked his post immediately and signed out before I did something without my knowledge. Like signing up for life memberships on paid programmes on FB.

By: Harimohan Paruvu

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