Mar 21, 2018

Facebook’s privacy invasion is the business model of the entire internet

The focus on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica obscures the extent to which the monetisation of privacy and its sale to advertisers is the core financial model of the online world.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

It took a concealed camera, some loose talk from the now-suspended Cambridge Analytica CEO and lurid references to Ukrainian women to get people to focus on the issue of the role played by data analytics in political campaigning. Until recently, that subject has primarily been of interest to privacy advocates and those worried about the steady development of what we used to call a surveillance state but is now more properly called a surveillance civilisation.

But the scandal is most accurately seen as an intersection of a number of separate privacy threats, rather than an example of particularly malevolent Trump-aligned actors.

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24 thoughts on “Facebook’s privacy invasion is the business model of the entire internet

  1. York City

    The monetisation of money -the ongoing demonizing and proposed removal of cash by govt and banks, is nothing more than a leg up for someone to sell you shit, and to monitor and control us.

    1. Bobby

      It does have the advantage though of breaking the cash economy and allowing governments to collect taxes that are due

      1. covenanter

        Or more likely a re-run of the Rum Corps era including rebellion?
        Bring it on!

      2. covenanter

        Or more likely a re-run of the Rum Corps era including rebellion?
        Bring it on!

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    Is this all a story because of the South Australian election, and claims that the libs may have used data (as if they were smart enough)?
    Again, why is this a story now? Read an in-depth article over 12 months ago on this.
    Is this just a successful marketing ploy by Analytica to get back in the news and sell more information to not very smart people?

    Entirely agree the general thrust though Bernard. It is about gullibility and not just the lower economic status types, and it is about the very business model of the internet, and it is as sinister as all get out.

    A lot of kids these days are just posting innocuous shite on Facebook anyway, mostly just the latest photos of themselves in the latest gear. Many are using other sites and are being much cleverer. Their mums and dads, they are posting waaaaay tooooo much.

  3. Jim Egan

    Well done Bernard, your factual analysis should be absorbed by those who wallow in the conspiracy theories which lost Hillary the election. What we have here is simple exploitation of ordinary trusting plebs AKA ‘dumb f***kers’ by a smartie who spotted a vast opportunity to corner the next big thing. Well plebs, you have a simple choice;

    Here’s the plan….everyone on Facebook create a fictional identity, let it link with as many of your friends fictional identities; then disappear your real self and let fictional Facebook run like a room full of mousetraps and ping pong balls.

    If this does not work to trash the joint; simply wipe our your facebook ID and let Zuc go ‘f***k himself.

    1. EG

      Excellent Jim.
      Have you been able to wipe out your facebook id because I’m blowed if it’s easy.

    2. zut alors

      ‘…fictional Facebook run like a room full of mousetraps and ping pong balls.’

      That’s an inspirational image, Jim.

      On the rare occasions I agree to participate in a phone survey I feed misinformation. Serves them right for invading my privacy.

    3. Bobby

      Voters could decide to vote for governments that actually pass legislation to protect their citizens from rapacious corporations that care nothing about an individual’s right to privacy.
      Crazy idea I know

  4. Sweeney Julanne

    In South Australia we have already tasted this robotic deluge in our elections with investment of their digital system by the USA Koch Brothers,Trump backers. I wonder what they see in it for their interests? Be wary.

  5. Geoff Russell

    Great article Bernard. Lots of people are in the business of convincing other people to part with money or vote in a particular way or back a cause using things other than meticulous and well screened evidence. Facebook just does targeted advertising better and much cheaper than the previous mass media. And for the most part, people love it. They love it when “news” confirms their biases. They love it when they get details about stuff they want. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a serious problem. The serious problem is when an important issue gets politicised and decisions are made by public political pressure when the public know SFA about it but who are conned into believing that they do and that their ignorant and ill-informed opinion should matter. Governments are supposed to make important decisions by consulting appropriate experts and taking their advice very seriously. That’s representative democracy and its a pretty sensible way of working. Far better than poll driven policy. “Climate change action? … lets have a poll … no we can’t do that” etc.

  6. Wayne Cusick

    Wasn’t their a Productivity Commission report that suggested that the law be changed so that data about a person should belong to that person.

    Which would require your permission for your data to be used each and every time.
    But I guess that things like Facebook would have as a condition of entry that you give permission for them to do with that data as they see fit.

    1. Bobby

      The simple solution is legislation requiring companiex like facebook to have a simple and obvious method for users to delete their accounts and requiring every single of piece of data associated with a user to be deleted when the user chooses to delete their account. Make the directors liable for long mandatory prison sentences if they break those laws. Problem solved.
      Any company that refuses to abide by australian laws gets geoblocked. Sure some users will get around it with vpns etc but the cast majority of potential users will no longer be available and there goes their business model

  7. Nudiefish

    I find it passing interesting that it is only now that these pan-global media monoliths that have had the entire world under active surveillance for over a decade are suddenly a problem. Political parties the world over have been sucking on the data teats of Google, Facebook, et al for their own personal gains without any particular problem until now. What has changed? I’ll tell you: the natural progression to barefaced commercial and criminal fraud and corruption. And why not? The entire progress of social media platforms have been leading sociality in this appalling direction, as we have all been painfully aware from day one.

    As the old saying goes, if you use something that is free, then you yourself are probably the product.

  8. zut alors

    Rather than crediting Russian bots, I believe Trump won because he wasn’t a politician.

    If he survives this term & re-nominates he will no longer have that advantage.

  9. Draco Houston

    Agreed, real basic lack of respect for the public.

  10. klewso

    Everybody’s doing it but when someone is doing it for ‘the wrong reasons’ (ie different to whoever is judging from their own moral high-horse) that’s wrong?
    As for ‘the diabolical’ abuse of using position to influence elections – what is Facebook doing that Murdoch’s media empire isn’t (“It was The Sun what did it!”?) in biased, partisan, subjective, advertorial reporting, misrepresenting facts and twisting reality to suit their/his agenda, including political? To influence sufficient voter perception and voting intentions to swing elections?
    But that goes unremarked in discussions – especially in the ‘news’ media?

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