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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Assaf Turner

Same Facebook - New Algorithm

A couple of months ago I watched a documentary called The Social Dilemma. Featuring ex-executives from the social networking industry and was, if nothing else, a frightening eye-opener.

The documentary explained how social media contributes to political polarization and disinformation. It also pointed out that high social media use correlates with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction.

Basically - ruining our world one click at a time.

But most troubling was that all fingers pointed to "The Algorithm" - not humans but a man-made machine that is now in control of our social media lives and much of our physical lives as well. An algorithm that feeds on our every reaction and every piece and bit of information it can gather and link to us and in turn, feeds us with low self-esteem, extremism, and a general lack of ability to deal with other humans.

So it's not really Facebook. It's 'The Algorithm', right?

Then I get this message from WhatsApp, telling me I have to agree to its new terms and privacy policy. Mainly - integrating WhatsApp into Facebook's already larger-than-life human tracking system.

In February 2014, Facebook purchased the messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion. This transaction caused a lot of curiosity since WhatsApp doesn't show ads or paid subscriptions.

Some pointed out WhatsApp's competitive potential but the grand scheme is now in the open - another arm to feed 'The Algorithm'.

This latest attempt by Facebook to include WhatsApp's platform in its already enormous information-collection-campaign shows that it's not "The Algorithm". It's people who direct this massive infringement of our privacy for financial gain.

One point of light in all of this is the ability of a regulator (the EU) to protect its citizens (European residents) by strictly enforcing smart regulation (GDPR). An obvious result of this strict enforcement is that Facebook's new move will not include European citizens. Is it that European information unproductive or is it the hundreds of millions of dollars in GDPR fines incurred by Facebook?

What can you do?

Here's how we can all make a difference:

1. Lawmakers everywhere - take an example from the European GDPR and protect your citizens. European citizens will not be getting this message as a direct result of GDPR enforcement.

2. Everyone - Drop WhatsApp. Switch to Signal or make another informed decision about a messaging app that doesn't track your every move and sell your information. Send a clear message that you care about your privacy.

3. Facebook - It's not too late to stop using your users' private information as a commodity.

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