Why is Face­book grov­el­ing?

Starkville Daily News - - FORUM -

That is it about spec­tac­u­lar Amer­i­can business suc­cess sto­ries like Face­book that brings out envy and re­sent­ment?

Face­book has 2 bil­lion monthly users.

CEO Mark Zucker­berg is 33 and has a net worth north of

$60 bil­lion, mak­ing him the fifth rich­est per­son on Earth, ac­cord­ing to Forbes last month. His com­pany is also ac­cused of al­low­ing “mis­use” of its users’ per­sonal data to help elect Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Never mind that the 2012 Obama cam­paign bragged about us­ing Face­book in a sim­i­lar way to win re-elec­tion. So, when it comes to Face­book and Zucker­berg, what’s not to hate?

In­dus­trial pi­o­neers and vi­sion­ar­ies like John D. Rock­e­feller in oil and An­drew Carnegie in steel found them­selves vil­i­fied in news­pa­pers as “rob­ber barons,” a la­bel pop­u­lar­ized by a New York Times writer. Never mind that the price for kerosene con­tin­ued to fall even as Rock­e­feller dom­i­nated the in­dus­try, just as the price of steel con­tin­ued to fall de­spite Carnegie’s al­leged greed.

IBM found it­self un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice in 1969 for an­titrust violations. Those com­plain­ing about the com­pany’s al­leged abuses were not con­sumers but com­peti­tors. IBM man­age­ment de­voted so much time and re­sources to fight­ing the an­titrust law­suit un­til it was dropped 13 years later for be­ing “with­out merit” that business suf­fered. One could ar­gue that IBM never fully re­cov­ered.

Mi­crosoft be­came a tar­get of an­titrust reg­u­la­tors at the DOJ in 2001 for the com­pany’s al­leged il­le­gal “bundling.” Then-CEO Bill Gates learned that with­out lob­by­ing clout in Washington D.C., the reg­u­la­tors could come knock­ing. And they did.

Now comes Face­book. Full dis­clo­sure: I do not have a per­sonal Face­book page. I never un­der­stood why peo­ple will­ingly give out in­for­ma­tion on their per­sonal lives, whether there are in a re­la­tion­ship, etc., on a bill­board for any­body to see. Clearly, 2 bil­lion Face­book users dis­agree with me.

Per­haps what ag­gra­vates peo­ple is founder Zucker­berg’s shift­ing state­ments about the use of col­lected per­sonal data, and his blather about want­ing Face­book to con­nect the whole world in or­der to “do good.” Guess he thinks no­body saw the movie “The So­cial Net­work” and the vi­cious big-money law­suit he was in­volved in over who founded Face­book. Zucker­berg is a busi­ness­man.

Zucker­berg agreed to tes­tify be­fore Congress to ad­dress ac­cu­sa­tions of “vi­o­lat­ing the privacy” of users’ per­sonal data. What pri-

vacy? The agree­ment be­tween Face­book and users could not be more clear: Face­book can col­lect your data. Face­book can and will use your per­sonal data to make money. Its privacy pol­icy states in part:

“Depend­ing on which Ser­vices you use, we col­lect dif­fer­ent kinds of in­for­ma­tion from or about you.

“Things you do and in­for­ma­tion you pro­vide. We col­lect the con­tent and other in­for­ma­tion you pro­vide when you use our Ser­vices, in­clud­ing

when you sign up for an ac­count, cre­ate or share, and mes­sage or com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers. This can in­clude in­for­ma­tion in or about the con­tent you pro­vide, such as the lo­ca­tion of a photo or the date a file was cre­ated. We also col­lect in­for­ma­tion about how you use our Ser­vices, such as the types of con­tent you view or en­gage with or the fre­quency and du­ra­tion of your ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Things oth­ers do and in­for­ma­tion they pro­vide. We also col­lect con­tent and in­for­ma­tion that other peo­ple pro­vide when they use our Ser­vices, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion

about you, such as when they share a photo of you, send a mes­sage to you, or up­load, sync or im­port your con­tact in­for­ma­tion.

“Your net­works and con­nec­tions. We col­lect in­for­ma­tion about the peo­ple and groups you are con­nected to and how you in­ter­act with them, such as the peo­ple you com­mu­ni­cate with the most or the groups you like to share with. We also col­lect con­tact in­for­ma­tion you pro­vide if you up­load, sync or im­port this in­for­ma­tion (such as an ad­dress book) from a de­vice . ...

“In­for­ma­tion from web­sites

and apps that use our Ser­vices. We col­lect in­for­ma­tion when you visit or use third­party web­sites and apps that use our Ser­vices (like when they of­fer our Like but­ton or Face­book Log In or use our mea­sure­ment and ad­ver­tis­ing ser­vices). This in­cludes in­for­ma­tion about the web­sites and apps you visit, your use of our Ser­vices on those web­sites and apps, as well as in­for­ma­tion the de­vel­oper or pub­lisher of the app or web­site pro­vides to you or us.”

Face­book’s business model is to col­lect per­sonal data so that ad­ver­tis­ers can pre­cisely

tar­get prospec­tive cus­tomers, an ex­tremely lu­cra­tive en­ter­prise. A 2013 book called “Unau­tho­rized Ac­cess” put it this way: “The abil­ity to cre­ate de­tailed psy­cho­graphic pro­files makes Face­book a po­ten­tial tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing gold mine . ... But Face­book doesn’t need to — or want to — trans­fer to third par­ties any of its valu­able data on its users. In­stead, ad­ver­tis­ers spec­ify their de­sired tar­gets to Face­book, and Face­book uses the pro­files to match ad­ver­tis­ing to the spec­i­fi­ca­tion.”

Would this pub­lic flog­ging of Zucker­berg have oc­curred had Hil­lary Clin­ton won the

elec­tion? And many Repub­li­cans, who should know bet­ter, joined in the Face­book con­dem­na­tion. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If you think some­thing is free, you are likely the com­mod­ity.

Larry El­der is a best-sell­ing au­thor and na­tion­ally syn­di­cated ra­dio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry El­der, or be­come an “Elder­ado,” visit www.Lar­ryElder.com. Fol­low Larry on Twit­ter @lar­ryelder. To read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit the Cre­ators Syn­di­cate web­page at www.cre­ators.com.

LARRY EL­DER SYN­DI­CATED COLUM­NIST

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