2014 or 1984? Facebook is watching you

Posted on Sep 15 2014 - 7:54pm by Brice Ashford

Whether it comes in the form of gossip, internet postings or government surveillance, privacy infringement is everywhere. Privacy no longer exists in today’s world, the word itself is so laughable it’s reduced to its most archaic meaning: “The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.” In a world filled with known national intelligence agencies such as the NSA, CIA and others, that are surely unannounced to the public, every camera, microphone and/or computer is beginning to feel increasingly more Orwellian. Social media’s game changer, known as Facebook, has recently attracted a lot of attention due to its mobile messaging application.

The Facebook Messenger app can access large amounts of personal data. You cannot gain access to the app without first agreeing to the Terms of Service, rendering it difficult to communicate with others on Facebook via your smartphone (It is still possible to access Facebook via mobile web browser to message other users, however this is extremely inconvenient).

According to the Terms of Service, the app allows Facebook to “call phone numbers without your intervention,” “send SMS messages,” “record audio with microphone” and many other sticky little add-ons that allow the app to collect swaths of potentially sensitive information.

Facebook’s motives for collecting this data remains unclear. Some might say it is for marketing purposes while others may speculate there is underlying government involvement.

This isn’t the first time the social media giant has received bad publicity for being a little too nosy. I do not support the mass collection of public data by any entity, whether the action comes from the command of any form of government or a corporation.

Private information should remain private.

I cannot and do not hold Facebook 100 percent accountable for this issue, however. The Terms of Service were established as a way for companies and corporations to explain to their clients, “This is what you’re getting into.” As invasive as Facebook messaging seems, its clients are not forced to use any services, after all.

Where do we, the consumers, draw the line? Although I do not agree with handing over the use of my phone’s functions to the company, I have chosen to agree to the terms and services; therefore, I have elected to render a certain level of privacy in order to gain access to a more efficient means of mobile communication linked to Facebook. The terms of service for other devices, such as laptops, do not differ in the ways that they collect data.

The truth is, we have all been subject to monitoring since the day we signed up to use the website. The technological advances the world has achieved makes it increasingly difficult to maintain a private lifestyle. There is no sure way to fully block monitoring or surveillance. Be cautious of the actions that you choose to ensue. Remember, “Facebook is watching you.”


Brice Ashford is a junior marketing major from Ridgeland.

Brice Ashford