Facebook PAC raises privacy concerns
This is the full text of my article from The Daily Censored. Feel free to check out all the other stories at The Daily Censored as well.
Over the past few years, Facebook has garnered a lot of publicity, concern, and backlash for its numerous privacy issues. The most current concern is a recent patent filing to track its users offsite as well as actually helping the government with surveillance. Earlier this week, Facebook created its own Political Action Committee (PAC).
The move is the latest in a series of maneuvers boosting the Palo Alto company’s political profile in recent years, joining a steady rise in lobbying spending, several high-profile fundraisers and the failed statewide candidacy of one of its key officers for attorney general last year.
Much like Microsoft and Google before it, Facebook’s meteoric rise has been followed by a boost in political activity across the board.
Federal records show the company has more than tripled its federal lobbying spending since 2009, from about $200,000 to more than $730,000 this year. Much of Facebook’s recent lobbying activity has focused on net neutrality and privacy issues.
Facebook is not entirely unfamiliar with lobbying either. It first began lobbying at the state level last year.
The company has expanded its footprint in Sacramento, too, spending more than $50,000 on lobbying through the first two quarters of this year and nearly $80,000 last year, when it hired its first state-level lobbyist.
Among the bills it lobbied were a measure that would have required stringent reporting for sex offenders on social networking sites and bills related to privacy and carpooling benefits.
Although Facebook appears concerned about childrren and sex offenders, the other privacy issues with the website lead many to believe that Facebook is only playing lip service to “thinking of the children.”
With all the information Facebook collects about individuals both on and off their site, how long will it be before private information about politicians is collected, stored, and used against them? What happens when a politician visits a website a sexual fetish or other controversial issue and it has a “like” button or other type of cookie on the site, whereby Facebook now knows where the politician is surfing to? What if this politician is on a congressional committee deciding on legislation that Facebook wants passed?
One particular privacy issue currently facing Congress is the need for better legislation on how long websites must store data for before it is erased. German citizens have already taken advantage of a European law that requires Facebook to turn over all the information they have on an individual when a written request from the individual is made. Many Germans discovered that there were up to 800 pages of personal data stored on Facebook’s severs. While many argue that companies should not have so much power to attempt to control Congress, the fact remains that many companies are legally allowed to do so. They continually pressure Congress into enacting legislation in their favor with their disproportionate influence in Washington.
Despite what many believe, Facebook’s PAC will not represent its users. It will be representing Mark Zukerberg and the interests of Facebook as it continues to expand. Considering Facebook’s history of privacy violations, it is likely that their new PAC will focus on loosening privacy laws, in order to further spy on their users.
As Americans we should step up and put pressure on Congress to stop allowing PACs. PACs make the government weaker and do not allow citizens’ voices to be fully heard. A citizen does not have the money or leverage required to get a politician’s attention in solving issues.
When we allow corporations, companies, and websites access to our private information for free, we become the product they are selling in order to make a profit. Our sense of privacy will, eventually, come into conflict with this.
It is never too late to delete your Facebook account. If you keep your Facebook account, you should be proactive in keeping as much of your personal information private as possible. Take steps to prevent Facebook from tracking you on other websites. Support organizations, such as EFF and EPIC, who fight against large corporations and websites who, generally, really don’t care about you. It’s your personal information. Make sure you understand how it’s being used and how to prevent it from spreading because Facebook won’t.