Author: Ravi Shankar
Facebook has alleged that it gave unethical promotions to leaders in more than 25 countries worldwide. It was used by leaders in these countries to trick the public and harass their opponents. In the same month, the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ published an investigative report and said that it has got many papers of this unethical work done by Facebook.
The newspaper has disclosed this to former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang. Zhang was hired by Facebook in January 2018 to stop fake engagements, but was fired in September 2020 on the
Investigations revealed that the company showed readiness for political interventionist issues in countries such as the US, but did not interfere at all in the affairs of countries in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Mongolia, Mexico and Latin America. In checking the profiles of Azerbaijan, it showed how in these countries Facebook allowed people of a particular party to create many profiles with different names. Hundreds of similar comments were made from those profiles by visiting the status of political opponents. According to Sophie Zhang, Facebook in these countries kept all the activities highly confidential, so that no one would know about it, nor be able to treat it.
Zhang also referred to the 2016 US election, which provided evidence of several manipulations against Facebook to divide voters. Not only this, he cited the Central American country of Honduras as saying that President Juan Arnoldo Hernandez had posted more than 90 percent fake engagements in his support office in 2018. His entire office was involved in fake likes and comments. Its number was in millions.
According to Zhang, he noted similar complaints and reported complaints in Albania, Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Philippines, Afghanistan, South Korea, Bolivia, Ecuador, Iraq, Tunisia, Turkey, Taiwan and Ukraine, including India. Despite these complaints, it took a quarter to a year and a half for Facebook to get rid of these things, even if it wanted to, it was a matter of few minutes.
However, such acts of Facebook have not surfaced for the first time. Earlier, its data was leaked through a third party agency like Cambridge Analytica, but now the company itself has started spying on users without asking. On this whole episode, Facebook spokeswoman Liz Borghese says that she completely disagrees with what Sophie has said and that the company does not allow such acts to take place on its platform.
However, misuse of data and social media is becoming out of control to serve political and business interests. India is also named in this investigation, but so far there is neither a strict law for it, nor any institution that protects the confidentiality of data. The government only gives guidelines for data protection under Section 43 (A) of the Information Technology Act. The data protection bill is still stuck in the Lok Sabha.
According to Sophie Zhang, the 25 countries in which Facebook did this together with the leaders, their data protection is also bad. In such a situation, the tech companies are not afraid of any kind of law in India and third world countries and that is why these countries are making them easy targets. While strict laws related to privacy exist in places like the European Union and the US, many companies like Facebook have to follow them, so they are not able to do such activities in those countries.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own
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