Privacy

Facebook’s Shift to Private Communications Makes No Sense

Facebook’s track record on privacy doesn’t make it conducive to private, secure communications.

As a social network, Facebook is inherently at odds with private, secure communications – its  business model is built on harvesting people’s information. And it’s not just that Facebook’s business model is built around what are effectively privacy violations: recent articles have revealed that Facebook lacks transparency and accountability towards its users. In short, this is a company that should not be producing private, secure communications. Here are three reasons why: 

Facebook has a History of Misleading its Users

We all know that Facebook collects information about active users—but what about when you deactivate your account? The tracking should stop, right? Not quite. After you deactivate your account, the social network continues to collect data about your online activities. This is pretty sneaky of Facebook—their data policy suggests that deactivating your account can help you maintain your privacy but conveniently forgets to mention that it is continuing to collect information about you after you deactivate your account. 

Facebook’s habit of misleading users stretches across its whole business model. While Facebook doesn’t make it private that they collect users’ information, they downplay the extent of the data they gather from users by emphasizing the enjoyable parts of Facebook for users—the social connections, news, and entertainment it offers. It’s an effective strategy, diverting people’s attention away from what Facebook is actually doing – harvesting people’s data. In other words, Facebook’s business model is not only built on violating your privacy, but the company actually proactively hides the extent of its shady behavior. How truthful will Facebook be about the privacy of its own private communications platform?

Facebook Has Shown Us that it Lacks Accountability 

Facebook has already struggled with distribution of misinformation through its platform and now it seems cybercrime is a serious problem as well. Recently, researchers found 74 Facebook groups dedicated to sales of stolen credit card data, identity info, and hacking tools, just to name a few. And these groups aren’t hidden—they’re easy to find with many of the users conducting business with their real Facebook accounts. If Facebook’s been slow to moderate illegal activities in a public context, it seems unlikely the company would take steps to minimize any abuse of a private messaging platform. Would a private communications platform by Facebook make it easier than ever for people to spread misinformation or commit cybercrimes without consequences? 

Facebook doesn’t just collect information, it has actually actively undermined privacy, at times turning to use of actual spyware to collect data. Facebook secretly paid users between the ages of 13 to 35 up to $20 a month to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that harvested all of the user’s phone and web activity in what was a possible violation of Apple policy. Facebook’s behavior towards its users is inherently intrusive and manipulative—paying young people who may not be aware of the implications of downloading such an app.

Facebook Actively Undermines Privacy

A company’s history matters when it comes to using a secure, private communications platform. Facebook’s history, its lack of transparency and its lack of accountability make it clear that it’s not the right business to launch private communications. Any company that offers secure, private communications should have a strong respect for privacy as well as a culture of transparency towards customers. 

To learn how Vaporstream’s private, secure communications platform protects your conversations, download our case study on security and privacy today.

Contributor: Kristi Perdue Hinkle