Signing up for a Facebook account, or any free online service, comes with an implicit bargain: Use it as much as you want—check your News Feed, like a status, poke a friend—and in return, the company will collect your data, and use it to serve you ads both on Facebook and around the web. But what appears to be a simple exchange has become anything but.
This is not a screed about deleting your Facebook account—although if you want to, here's how. It’s not a rant about online ads. It is an argument, though, that Facebook has been a poor steward of your data, asking more and more of you without giving you more in return—and often not even bothering to ask. It has repeatedly failed to keep up its side of the deal, and expressed precious little interest in making good.
By now you’ve likely heard of Cambridge Analytica, a company that provided data services to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. More recently, it has entered the spotlight for having pilfered the data of 50 million Facebook users. Cambridge obtained that data from a researcher named Aleksandr Kogan, who developed a quiz app in 2013 that collected information from not only the 270,000 people that downloaded the app, but many of their friends, as well. When Kogan passed this information along to Cambridge, it was in violation of the social media company's terms of service.
In 2014, Facebook cut off the third-party developer access that swept tens of millions of people in that particular net. But while the company says it discovered the incident in 2015, it took until this past weekend, after the publication of two deeply reported stories from The Guardian and