Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), in a bid to hide their dirty secrets, recently threatened a small academic team to shut, all in the name of protecting user privacy!
The research group which a project of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering called ‘Ad Observervatory’ is known to have done remarkable work when it comes to exposing the social media behemoth’s various failures such as containing scams and political misinformation.
Instead of appreciating and recognising their work, Facebook has directed them to cease their ongoing public-interest research project completely and delete all their collected data by the end of this month, or else they will be subjected to “additional enforcement action”.
Interesting enough, the reason the social media giant has cited for taking this particular action is – protecting user privacy, something which obviously is bogus at best!
Facebook’s self-serving advertisement platform for long has been the absolute favourite of political tricksters. It has been used in many cases to spread highly targeted misinformation to specific groups of people who might act on them. Because of such shortcomings, as we all know, Facebook has been fined multiple times by the U.S Congress and the British Parliament.
Every time when the company is made to cough up a large sum of money they claimed to have learnt their lessons and assures of putting all the needed measures to prevent the same going forward. But did Facebook actually make good on their promises? To find out the answer, entered the NYU’s ‘Ad Observervatory’ project.
The research team built a browser plugin called ‘Ad Observer‘ that Facebook users could install voluntarily. Once active, this plugin scraped the data of every ad a user came across the Facebook platform and sent it back to the research team.
From there on, various scholars and accountability journalists accessed the data in order to analyze what in reality is really happening on the platform at the ground level. The research team, in doing so, time and time again, found several massive failures in Facebook’s ability to deliver on their own policies and promises, which now brings us to the present situation.
It seems like Zuckerberg has had enough of the NYU’s academic team calling them out on their gross shortcomings and now it has threatened legal action against them. Facebook has claimed that the plugin along with all the data it has collected over time is a violation of their terms and service and thus needs to be terminated at once.
In other words, the social media giant doesn’t want any third party bodies to scrutinize their ad policy enforcement which could lead to Government watchdogs or regulators finding out all the secrets they tucked away under their rug.
The company says it is acting on their concretely established commitment to preserving their users’ privacy and are not driven by the desire to silence independent critics of their organization’s policies. This is very ironical as Facebook is one of the most prominent privacy invaders themselves, but in this case, somehow they are hoping to position themselves as privacy champions instead.
What according to you, is the social media giant’s motive behind this move? Do you think shutting down the project will add to user privacy or block transparency? Let us know in the comments down below. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.