Facebook is once again in embroiled in controversy for inappropriate use of data. This is happening so often that rather than write an article I am tempted to just share the link of previous articles I have written on the topic to save time (I am only half joking too). This time Facebook admitted to granting companies, including Netflix and Spotify, access to user’s private messages. These companies have been quick to response saying they did not even know they had this access, but regardless users understandably see this as a serious breach of trust. I am sure the typical investigations will follow and perhaps Facebook will face a few lawsuits or fines but what I am most certain is that very few will delete their account because of this. Which begs the question, “Have we finally accepted that our lives are no longer private?”
Unfortunately, this is a much bigger issue than Facebook as not only are many companies experiencing data breaches but many of us are willingly signing up for services that heavily rely on data mining for profit. While smart speakers such as Google Home and Alexa are a couple of years old now their popularity is starting to take off as they can be used for a variety of tasks such as turning off lights, playing music and shopping online. These speakers can theoretically even listen to your private conversations as the microphone must be active always to hear for the commands. The competitivity of this market is heating up to the point where these speakers are often heavily discounted (as much as 50%) so the company can gain access to your home.
So how do we protect ourselves? Sure standard prevention measures like limiting what we post on social media and be mindful of any data breaches that could affect us but the truth is the only real way to ensure your lives stay private is to delete your social media accounts and throw out devices like smart speakers that may be eavesdropping, and I do not think anybody is willing to take it that far. It is for that reason alone that I fear that society as a whole has reluctantly accepted that our lives are no longer private anymore and it is something we are just going to have to live with.