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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

I Quit Facebook, But What About Those Who Remain?

Social media platforms started as a fun way to connect with family and friends at the turn of this century.  Since then, they have turned into a science fiction nightmare due to their capacity to gather and misuse the data on their users. 

Just this year, a whistleblower revealed that the 2016 United States presidential elections and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom may have been influenced by “psychological warfare” on the public enabled by Facebook.  A few years ago, Facebook admitted to running a psychological experiment by exposing users to particularly negative or positive content, then tracking and measuring the user’s mood to see whether “emotional contagion” could be spread. 

It is irrational for consumers of social media not to expect social media providers to utilize their data when they provide the platforms for free.  Indeed, the business model of social media is to sell data to third parties for marketing and other purposes. 

Yet, users should be able to expect that their data is not used to hurt them or is sent to disreputable companies.  Fewer people would use social media if the price were incurring a mood disorder or being manipulated to vote in a particular way that does not necessarily align with their interests.

Technology continues to push the boundaries of law as it evolves.  The field of privacy has clearly failed social media users.  Meanwhile, the field of cybercrime arose to address cybersecurity, but it does not solve the issues with social media because many of the things done with user data were legal.  However, these legal actions have increasingly become the target of criticism and desire for legal change.   

There are several choices lawmakers and policymakers have when it comes to the protection of social media data from exploitation by social media companies.  They include fiduciary duties permeating corporate and trusts, as well as the duty of care in tort law.  However, can these centuries-old legal frameworks grasp the risks and consequences of the improper use of big data generated by social media?  If not, how can they be tweaked?

I consider these questions in my forthcoming Notre Dame law review online supplement article here, and welcome comments.

Posted by Margaret Ryznar on September 26, 2018 at 03:15 AM | Permalink


Yes, that is true that users can even be manipulated by a 3rd party signing as Facebook, and even if they are generating data within Facebook itself, they don't even read what they consented to. It adds to the troubling nature of it.

I am against manipulation enough that I would be against it even if it were in the interest of the user. But, that assumes a 3rd party knows what's best for the user, and that the user has a single-dimensional interest that can be understood. This discussion kind of reminds me of the "Nudge" book and related behavioral economics research, but in a more permeating and invisible way.

Posted by: Margaret Ryznar | Sep 27, 2018 2:16:27 AM

By the way Margaret , you may find great interest here I guess :


Posted by: El roam | Sep 26, 2018 11:06:58 AM

So you are okay with people being manipulated to vote in a particular way that does align with their interests?

Posted by: Mike61 | Sep 26, 2018 11:04:58 AM

Here one may read , another illustration at the time ( not a ruling . Apple and geolocation ) here :



Posted by: El roam | Sep 26, 2018 10:33:13 AM

Just important clarification concerning the ruling put by me down there :

Not to confuse simply , in that case , It was rather seemingly , a dispute between both firms as providers ( facebook v. power ) .But , actually , the result , was so , that power , continued to provide messages or notices , to facebook users , without the ongoing consent of facebook , while the messages , were or could be considered as misleading in fact , I quote :

" The " from " line in the e- mail stated that the message came from facebook : the body was signed , " the facebook team "

So , one user of facebook , could think that he has gotten it from facebook , but actually received from " power " .

So , this is a good illustration , how third parties , can penetrate data or computers , without too much control of the user , while no specific consent has been given .


Posted by: El roam | Sep 26, 2018 7:16:22 AM

One may read this ruling , and realize ,how electronic consent , may be pretty problematic :

here ( involving facebook by the way ) :



Posted by: El roam | Sep 26, 2018 6:23:30 AM

Important issue indeed . I couldn't read the document itself ( no access there by the way it seems ) . Typically , the issue too many times , is to differentiate between general consent , and specific one ( for transfer of data to third party or alike ) . Typically , users don't read , don't really understand the contracts or disclaimers of all sort of digital providers . They don't bother even . Yet , it is clear , that generally speaking , they agree or give implicit consent to the basic mutual " give and take " in trade of such data . But , once ,abruptly something goes wrong , the mess starts . So , the issue , is an issue of control . General consent is not specific consent ( notwithstanding the legal analysis ) and to control and understand and differentiate between endless ongoing and underlying transfer of data , is pretty messy for laymen let alone .

I shall post some illustrations later .


Posted by: El roam | Sep 26, 2018 6:05:38 AM

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