How often do you scroll through your Facebook news feed? On the way to work? In your lunch break? All the time?
That innocent-looking Like button you tap on hands Facebook a cumulative mountain of personal data – what you think, feel and believe. And how you vote. It’s no coincidence that those ads you see are specifically targeted to your tastes and behaviours.
But not only do they use the data to sell you things, they also sell off what they know about you to countless other companies. And all that data feeds Facebook’s now infamous algorithms that decide exactly what you see in your feed. Whether that content is fact or fiction appears to be have been ignored by Facebook – a fact that is now leading to far from innocent real-life consequences affecting millions around the world.
This is the scary truth revealed in The Facebook Dilemma, which reveals how the company’s peace-loving motto of creating a world that’s “more open and connected” gives way under the weight of its rampant chase for profits, at our expense.
In the eye-opening documentary, former employees reveal just how unconcerned Facebook is about protecting users’ data, all the while spruiking how safely the company guards it, not to mention that “in the US, there are no overarching privacy laws that apply to this kind of data collection”.
And the current Facebook staff interviewed hardly provide reassurance. They appear troublingly relaxed about the chaos being created by third parties dedicated to manipulating their algorithms for political gain, repeating the company line that they’ve been “too slow” to catch on to potential compromises to personal and national security.
We are also treated to footage of Zuckerberg in the early days giving a talk to a near empty lecture theatre. Prophetically, he advises the smattering of students to “do it first, apologise later”. He made it into the company slogan: “Move fast. Break things.”
Things are broken, all right. The social media behemoth is now a full-time “surveillance machine”.
Wondering how bad it can get? Get off your phone for long enough to watch The Facebook Dilemma and find out.
The Facebook Dilemma will be on SBS VICELAND from 2pm this Friday, February 19. Both episodes will be available afterwards at SBS On Demand.