There are many actors who have benefitted from Facebook not properly management their API platform. Collecting so many data points, tracking so many users, and looking the other way as 3rd party developers put them to use in a variety of applications. Facebook did what is expected of them, and focused on generating advertising revenue from allowing their customers to target the many data points that are generated by the web and mobile applications developed on top of their platform.
I hear a lot of complaining about this being just about democrats being upset that it was the republicans who were doing this, when in reality there are so many camps that are complicit in this game, if you are focusing in on any single camp you are probably looking to shift attention and blame from your own camp, in my opinion. I’m all for calling everyone out, even ourselves for being so fucking complicit in this game where we allow ourselves to be turned into a surveillance marketplace. Something that benefits the Mark Zuckerbergs, Cambridge Analyticas, and the surveillance capitalist platform, but also providing a pipeline to government, and law enforcement.
If government is going to jump on the bandwagon calling for change at Facebook, they need to acknowledge that they’ve been benefitting from the data free for all that is the Facebook API. We’ve heard stories about 3rd party developers building applications for law enforcement to target Black Lives Matters, all the way up to Peter Thiel’s (a Facebook Investor) Palantir who actively works with NSA, and other law enforcement. If we are going to shine a light on what is happening on Facebook, let’s make it a spotlight and call out ALL of the actors who have been sucking user’s data out of the API, and better understand what they have been doing. I’m all for a complete audit of how the RNC, DNC, and EVERY other election, policing, and government entity has been doing with social data they have access to.
Let’s bring all of the activity out of the shadows. Let’s take EVERY Facebook application and publish as part of a public database, with an API for making sense of who is behind each one. Let’s require every application share the name’s of individuals and business interests behind their applications, as well as their data retention, storage, and sharing practices. Let’s make the application database observable by the public, journalists, and researchers. If we are going to understand what is going on with our data, we need to turn the lights on in the application warehouse that is built on the Facebook API. Let’s not just point the finger at one group, let’s shine a spotlight on EVERYONE, and make sure we are actually being honest at this point in time, or we are going to see this same scenario play out every fiver years or so.