Oh, Facebook. How we love to hate you.
Since facing harsh criticism for allowing the spread of misinformation before and during the 2016 presidential election, Facebook has found itself in the hot seat numerous times. The latest scandal? Facebook has allegedly been receiving sensitive personal information about its users from at least 11 third party apps.
Ready for the really disturbing part? Sometimes that information can be transferred even if the app user doesn’t have a Facebook account.
According to The Guardian, one such app, the Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, reportedly provided Facebook with information about when its users were due for their monthly visits or trying to conceive. So THAT’S not weird or anything.
For its part, Facebook said it “require[s] apps to tell users what information [is] shared with it and that it ‘prohibits app developers from sending us sensitive data.'” Andrew Cuomo, New York governor, has called for further investigation into these alleged violations of users’ privacy, however.
It’s not that we’re unwilling to take your word for it, Facebook. It’s just … well … no, it’s exactly that we’re unwilling to just trust you because you pinky swore.
I don’t know about anyone else, but if true, I find this both disgusting and not at all surprising.
On one hand, hey, if you want to know when Aunt Flo is scheduled to visit, all you have to do is ask. I’m a pretty open person, and adhering to socially acceptable conversation has never been my strong suit. But on the other hand, get out of my business, Facebook. I’ll share what I want to share. The rest is for me and me alone to know. (And maybe those unfortunate enough to catch me at the wrong time of the month.)
In all seriousness, though, the mining of our data is disturbing, and while we all know (or SHOULD know) that by signing up for social media and other online services, we are opening ourselves up to scrutiny (in every possible way), there are still expectations of privacy that any corporation should responsibly respect.
And what about people who HAVEN’T signed up for social media, and now their information is potentially in the hands of third parties they never agreed to share it with? The hell is that all about?
In a perfect world, our sensitive info would remain under lock and key. But alas, this is decidedly NOT a perfect world, and no matter how hard we try to protect ourselves online, the reality is by choosing to live connected lives, we are choosing to potentially have everything about us pillaged for profit (or worse).
The only real way to protect ourselves is to live off the grid completely. And while this isn’t my first choice, it’s starting to look more and more attractive, tbh.
And if you’re worried about Facebook knowing your reproductive habits — or anything else, for that matter — it’s probably best to delete all those apps and just keep a bedside journal.
Or cram a stash of tampons in your mom purse and hope for the best.