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    Facebook in the Dark as to Where Its Users’ Data Goes, Leaked Report Reveals

    As if there haven’t been enough problems for Meta recently (like the major Instagram outage in February), now an internal report leaked to Motherboard (via Engadget) reveals that Facebook apparently has no control over how its users’ data is managed internally. How bad is the situation exactly? Worse than expected. 

    The report written by privacy engineers on Facebook’s Ad and Business Product team was intended to be read by the company’s leadership. Curious to learn more? Check out the key findings here:

    • At a loss for what to do with personal data. The report’s authors detail how Facebook could address a growing number of data usage regulations, including new privacy laws in India, South Africa and elsewhere, asking for new privacy measures to protect user data. They describe a platform often in the dark about the personal data of its estimated 2.9 billion users, struggling to make sense and keep track of where it goes once it makes its way into Facebook’s automated systems. They call on management to change how the company deals with users’ data to prevent it from running into trouble with regulators.
    • No adequate level of control and explainability. The privacy engineers warn that Facebook would have difficulty making promises to countries on how it would treat the data of its citizens. According to them, the company has no “adequate level of control and explainability over how our systems use data,” adding: “thus we can’t confidently make controlled policy changes or external commitments such as ‘we will not use X data for Y purpose”. They admit: “And yet, this is exactly what regulators expect us to do, increasing our risk of mistakes and misrepresentation.”
    • Like a bottle of ink poured into a lake. Facebook’s main obstacle to tracking down user data appears to be the company’s lack of “closed-form” systems, the report states. In other words, the company’s data systems have “open borders” that mix together first-party user data, third-party user data and sensitive data. To describe how difficult it is to track down specific Facebook’s data, the report’s authors come up with the metaphor of pouring a bottle of ink into a lake… and then trying to get it back in the bottle.
    • Drowning in the “tsunami” of new laws. The authors state that Facebook previously had “the ‘luxury’ of addressing [new privacy regulations] one at a time,” like the EU’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act. But subsequent years brought more data protection legislation from all over the world, including India, Thailand, South Africa and South Korea. The document casts doubt on whether Facebook has been able to comply with such legislation, and if it’s equipped to weather the “tsunami” of new laws that make similar restrictions. 
    • A complete shitshow”. Although a Facebook spokesperson denied that the company is not complying with regulators, an anonymous former Facebook employee said the question of where data goes inside the company is “broadly speaking, a complete shitshow.”

    As the social media giant is under fire again, facing an inevitable change in how users’ personal data will be handled in the future, the question about its trustworthiness remains. Novelty Media, via SmartAdd, offers a fully GDPR-compliant solution based 100% on user opt-in consent. We help you reach your preferred audience in a transparent, innovative, easily measurable and highly efficient way. If you want to make content viewing an eagerly anticipated experience for the end user, with no hidden agenda, keep following our Marketing Bites to find out more about SmartAdd.