Facebook wins ‘privacy villain of the year’ award

Originally published 10/11/16

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Photo via Alessio Jacona/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Everyone knows revealing personal information is built into Facebook’s business model, but now the company has the award to prove it — not that it will want to show it to anybody.

The European Digital Rights (EDRi), a coalition of civil rights organizations, awarded the social media giant its “privacy villain of the year” award on Thursday.

“We nominated Facebook for the award because their default settings are noxious for privacy,” Joe McNamee, executive director of EDRi, said in a statement. “To understand what privacy you are giving away when you use Facebook… well, that is impossible. Data algorithms that can make new assumptions about users are being constantly developed — even Facebook today would have difficulty knowing how they will use your data tomorrow.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

Facebook has come under fire for violating privacy virtually since its inception in 2004. The company has repeatedly added privacy control settings to allow users to fine-tune who sees their posts. But it has also expanded its advertising reach outside of Facebook itself, meaning even if you aren’t on Facebook, you could still get caught up in its reach.

Even if you have your share settings dialed in, there’s a whole other set of options when it comes to Facebook advertising — and that’s where the real data collection happens. If you want to see how much data you’re really sharing with Facebook, how that information is being used to categorize you, and to tweak the things you don’t like, head over to Facebook.com/ads/preferences. You might see why “privacy villain” is an appropriate title.

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