Deleting Facebook Won’t Fix the Problem

Anand Giridharadas in the New York Times:

When news broke that Facebook users’ private messages were not necessarily private, Taunya Richards, 44, a real estate appraiser in Hillsboro, Ore., immediately panicked: Had she endangered her son? She thought back to her chats with her mother in Idaho, who prefers Facebook’s messenger to texting. Her son is a specialist in the Army; using the Facebook-owned encrypted messaging platform WhatsApp, he had kept her updated as he traveled to what she described as a dangerous foreign base whose location she was supposed to keep secret. She had then sent those location updates to her mother using Facebook Messenger. Now she wonders who has that data.

“For a mother,” she told me, “especially one whose whole life has been about protect your kid from these harms, and she’s just doing what a mother does, which is responding to him telling her something that he needs her to know so he’s protected, and someone can come in and take that and just sell it to people as data? You’re putting my kid’s life in danger.”

But don’t count Ms. Richards among the growing ranks of people deleting Facebook. “All it does is punish me,” she said. “It doesn’t punish Facebook. It doesn’t change anything. It cuts me off from my family.” Even if a boycott bankrupted Facebook, what’s to stop the next company from doing the same thing? “We need the laws to say, You can’t do this,” she said.

More here.