The popular social media forum is all too often noticeable in the news because Facebook crosses privacy lines. The most recent example is yet another incident using a child’s photograph to collect “likes” by appealing to sentimental, caring and emotionally responsible people. Those individuals scrolling through their home pages behind their coffee in the morning or taking a quick look at what is happening in their virtual world while on the subway to work. “Likes” essentially equate bits of information about the person who agreed to justify the appearance of an item showing up on their home page.
Information is always worth something, and by selling a trending issue or topic via a page or link on Facebook the creators of pages stand to earn money. The new owner of the topic that was “liked” can change the content from the original idea. The new topic then appears on homepages promoting another product with intent for financial gain. This might explain why sometimes odd topics or products suddenly show up on a person’s home page when the person had not expressed an interest in that particular field.
Using a photo of a formerly ill child in an orange cheer-leading uniform to quickly attract interest is quite easy. Copying photos is routine, and most people are unaware that any photo posted on Facebook can be downloaded and reused by anyone. The child in question was undergoing cancer treatment six years ago and happily survived. Her mother was shocked to learn that the photo she’d once posted to her Photobucket account was circling the globe on Facebook crossing privacy lines. The photo was removed from the photo site more than two years ago, so why was it on Facebook? In this specific case, agreeing to morally support a suffering child by clicking “like” could enable malware to invade a computer. Malware, as opposed to the benign software, is a tool that collects data such as credit card numbers and passwords. In other words, clicking a “like” is opening a door to phishing.
Backlash against the social media forum is expected. A recent study by Princeton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering predicts a decline in usage among Facebook users. Princeton’s researchers are prone to believe that 80 percent of the peak user base will decrease between 2015 and 2017.
There is no doubt Facebook is powerful and one of the reasons it so powerful is that it co-creates. By harnessing the energy of millions of people and synthesizing interests, people power is born. However, when mass interest is found, creators of products are not far behind, aiming to get rich using the information that has been freely offered. This is one part of the story but the other part of the story is the harm and hurt that a simple download can cause when the item is a photo of a cancer survivor child in a cheer-leading uniform. The access to Facebook crosses privacy lines to the extent of proprietary information be stolen and disbursed by a third party, looking to create damage and/or earn a profit.
By Persephone Abbott