This article was published on May 6, 2018

Facebook vs. Google: Clash of the privacy infringers

You shouldn't be giving Facebook your data, but what about Google?

Facebook vs. Google: Clash of the privacy infringers
Donata Kalnenaite
Story by

Donata Kalnenaite

Donata Kalnenaite is an attorney focusing on business and privacy matters. She is also the co-founder and President of Termageddon, a websit Donata Kalnenaite is an attorney focusing on business and privacy matters. She is also the co-founder and President of Termageddon, a website and app policy generator.

We all love free products and hey, if we have to give up some information about ourselves in exchange for those products, that’s just the price of free, right? But then, once our information was compromised in the most recent Facebook data leaks, we were all up in arms. “How could you do this to us? How could you let our information be compromised like this for the first time ever? We trusted you!”

Don’t mind the fact that we couldn’t be bothered to read the Privacy Policy or actually protect our own information by refusing to give it to them. Would it even matter if did read it? So we drudge Mark Zuckerberg and his cold dead eyes in front of a Senate committee where the Senators that he paid off ask some easy questions and then accept an “I’ll look into it” as a valid answer from the golden goose.

Maybe we should parade him through Main Street all the while yelling “shame” instead? What we, in our infinite self-righteousness fail to see is the full picture — the information that we have given up so easily has been illegally obtained and compromised by so many companies that you should no longer be shocked when you get that “you just won a boat from that survey from 3 years ago” call.

So let’s all shout “shame!” together and compare Facebook to Google. Your stupid virtual farm with it’s virtual carrots can wait, it’s time to wake up.

Facebook and the price you paid to stalk your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend

Ah young love and data leaks! Let’s take a look at some of those pesky facts that will no doubt keep you up tonight:

  • The number of people whose information was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica by Facebook: 87 million.
  • According to Facebook, “malicious actors” took advantage of Facebook’s search tools to discover the identities and collect information of most of its two billion users worldwide over the course of several years. These mysterious “malicious actors” collected information such as names, phone numbers and email addresses, leading to a virtual gold mine of information that could be used to steal identities and to do other “malicious” stuff.
  • FTC has said that Facebook misrepresented its privacy protections and required Facebook to maintain a comprehensive Privacy Policy (so comprehensive in fact that now we need five cups of coffee just to read through all of that jargon). Thanks to the FTC, Facebook must also ask for permission before sharing user data in new ways.
  • In 2016, Facebook was fined $1.44 million by Spain for collection of data on people’s ideologies and religious beliefs, sex, and personal tastes without clearly telling the users what it will do with that information. Facebook was also charged for violating laws by not deleting the information that was no longer useful for the reasons for which it was collected.
  • In 2016, Facebook used your location data to suggest friends without asking you for permission to do so (naughty, naughty).
  • Facebook also carried out an experiment that removed either positive or negative posts of 689,003 users to see how that affected their mood. You guessed it, without telling them. Screw Prozac, take your daily dose of Facebook today.
  • Finally, Facebook was also sued for allegedly scanning private messages for advertising and user targeting data. So that message begging her to take you back? Yeah that was probably seen by a bunch of nerds. Shame!

Google and the price you paid to look up what that weird growth on your back is

Ah weird growths and privacy infringements. You know what’s coming next:

  • After being sued by 38 states, Google admitted that its cars were not just taking pictures, they were collecting data from inside homes and structures, including passwords, emails, and other personal information. C’mon Susan, pose for the camera and say “shame!”
  • In August 2012, Google was sued by the FTC for by-passing security measures in Apple devices and using secret code to bypass Safari’s anti-tracking measures.
  • It’s been discovered that Google Home Mini records your home at all times even if you don’t say “OK Google.” This software flaw has been subsequently fixed by Google. Or so they say.

  • complaint has recently been lodged that YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, has been collecting information from children under the age of 13 without obtaining prior parental consent, as required by law.
  • In 2014, Google was sued over commingling of user data across different platforms and disclosing that data to advertisers without permission.

I ask you: what have you learned? Will you take a minute and think before you hand over your data to these and other titans of privacy infringement?

Yes, I know you have to get back to your virtual farms and pseudo-psychology quizzes but please join me in standing up for our right to privacy or at least to informed consent. Or should I shout “shame” at you too?