The Guardian has an exceptional in-depth article every Facebook user – basically any human with a smart phone or computer – should read. It details Cambridge Analytica, the firm employed to psychologically profile people for political purposes by leveraging their Facebook data through tools such as surveys and other third-party applications:
Starting in 2007, Stillwell, while a student, had devised various apps for Facebook, one of which, a personality quiz called myPersonality, had gone viral. Users were scored on “big five” personality traits – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism – and in exchange, 40% of them consented to give him access to their Facebook profiles. Suddenly, there was a way of measuring personality traits across the population and correlating scores against Facebook “likes” across millions of people.
The research was original, groundbreaking and had obvious possibilities. “They had a lot of approaches from the security services,” a member of the centre told me. “There was one called You Are What You Like and it was demonstrated to the intelligence services. And it showed these odd patterns; that, for example, people who liked ‘I hate Israel’ on Facebook also tended to like Nike shoes and KitKats.
“There are agencies that fund research on behalf of the intelligence services. And they were all over this research. That one was nicknamed Operation KitKat.”
The defence and military establishment were the first to see the potential of the research. Boeing, a major US defence contractor, funded Kosinski’s PhD and Darpa, the US government’s secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is cited in at least two academic papers supporting Kosinski’s work.
This is why I never play Facebook games or use any of the third-party applications on the platform. There is just no granular control of the data you have knowingly provided to Facebook, and these applications can access just about all of it. Most people merely click-through the permissions page when installing a new game or survey, and remain completely oblivious to what they are giving away for free.
Over the past year I have begun to feel as if Facebook is almost like a cancer. It continues to grow and grow, and is at a point where it cannot stop metastasizing unless a drastic change occurs. What is that change?
People simply stop using Facebook. Cold turkey.
At this juncture, Facebook is too big for its own good. I really distrust Google, but have far less trust for Facebook. They collect a lot of data on people, and there are no controls in place to ensure they are safeguarding it appropriately. This article demonstrates their complete and utter disregard for personal information.
Do yourself a favor and take a step back from Facebook, stop using it for a week, and compare how you felt prior to and after this little experiment. I will almost guarantee you will better, if without that dopamine hit Facebook provides.