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#DeleteFacebook

Enough Already - let’s move over to, er, Instagram?

Data Protection Regulation Facebook Cambridge Analytica

Context

#deletefacebook is a grassroots protest movement calling for individuals to delete their Facebook accounts in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.The premise of the movement is a feeling of betrayal by Facebook, and an unwillingness to allow further data to be compromised. A lot of the anger has manifested itself in ad hominem attacks against Mark Zuckerberg rather than as a formal critique of the company itself [1]. The movement has been joined by several high-profile individuals, including Elon Musk [2] and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton [3]. Elon Musk has been one of the more prominent voices in the #deletefacebook movement. After the hashtag #deletefacebook began trending, he started engaging with it on twitter and eventually deleted the facebook pages of his two biggest companies, SpaceX and Tesla[2].

The Argument

Facebook amasses enormous amounts of personal data. It has proven itself untrustworthy in the management of that data. Mismanagement of data can cause harm. This harm occurs to individuals who have their personal data leaked, and to the broader democratic process when personal data is used to manipulate electoral outcomes. If we moved ourselves off Facebook, we would avoid this problem of data mismanagement. This is appropriate punishment for Facebook’s betrayal of trust. We would also incentivize other companies that manage large quantities of personal data to improve their data security, lest they be similarly punished. So we should #deletefacebook.

Counter arguments

Deleting Facebook is simply unfeasible for millions of people whose lives depend on it for business.

Premises

1. Deleting Facebook is a feasible action for a significant number of people 2. If a significant number of people delete Facebook, this would solve important problems with data privacy 3. This is the most effective solution to important problems with data privacy 4. If an action is feasible, and is the most effective solution to an important problem, then we ought to take the action 5. Conclusion: We should #DeleteFacebook

Rejecting the premises

Reject Premise 1: deleting Facebook is not a feasible action for a significant number of people. #deletefacebook underestimates how deeply Facebook, and social media platforms in general, are embedded in modern life (Vox). Reject Premise 2: this is not an effective solution to problems with data privacy. Other firms hold on to large amounts of data; punishing one company is a feel-good quick fix that doesn’t generate the broader political impetus to reform legislation (Washington Post). Reject Premise 3: there are better ways to ensure that data privacy is respected. Data privacy protection is best guaranteed at the legislative level. We should enforce compliance with legislative frameworks instead (The Economist).Reject Premise 4: both proponents and opponents of #deletefacebook might reject this premise.Proponents of #deletefacebook might argue that, even if an action is unfeasible or ineffective, it still ought to be taken because of the intrinsic value of protest. (Strictly speaking, this is not a rejection of the premise, since the premise doesn’t contain the “if and only if” conditional.)Opponents of #deletefacebook might argue that Premise 4 is an insufficient reason to take an action. There are some actions which are feasible and effectively solve problems, but that carry costs which are too high to bear. To evaluate whether we should take an action, we should consider not only the benefits that arise, but weigh these against the costs. Losing the connectivity Facebook offers is a relevant cost. The benefits must be weighed against the costs for the argument to be complete.

References

  1. https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/23/elon-musk-deletes-own-spacex-and-tesla-facebook-pages-after-deletefacebook/
  2. https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/23/elon-musk-deletes-own-spacex-and-tesla-facebook-pages-after-deletefacebook/
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/20/facebook-cambridge-analytica-whatsapp-delete

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 5 Aug 2018 at 09:42 UTC