Privacy on Facebook and Google is ‘like holding a gun to your head’

“Vesselin Popov and his team at the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre have found themselves embroiled in one of the year’s biggest news stories,” Bonnie Christian writes for Wired. “Their research was used by London-based Cambridge Analytica to harvest information from 80 million Facebook profiles without the users’ consent… To do this, one of Cambridge’s own data scientists, Aleksandr Kogan, developed an app that could predict online personality traits and then target information to specific users based on that trait.”

“But, just a year earlier, Popov’s team had published in peer-reviewed journals their findings from an app, myPersonality, they had developed in 2007 that did exactly the same thing,” Christian writes. “Wired spoke to Popov about whether they could have prevented this outcome, if it’s too late to get control back of our own data, and why now is the perfect time to start a new social network.”

What do you see as the future for Facebook?

It’s difficult to imagine. If I were a startup or an entrepreneur I would make a new social network (as ridiculous as that sounds) where you can upload your Facebook data. Now because of GDPR you can go on Facebook and you can download all of your Facebook data from whenever you started your account and they have to give you everything they have. Of course they’re not compliant but in a legal sense that will change and there’s a lot of stuff there. The problem is you can’t actually take that data anywhere else: I would want to have the photos I uploaded 10 years ago and all my friend connections and so on but I’d want to have it somewhere else on another platform.

[To do it,] it would just be a case of reading that data format and data portability is the reason that’s even possible. I don’t think it would take very long to make something that could repopulate data. The problem of social networks is no one uses them until people are using them, that chick and egg problem, but I think data portability makes that much quicker than perhaps if we were talking 10 years ago when everyone was trying to build a social network and it was a stupid idea. Now I think it’s maybe less a stupid idea.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Imagine if Apple created a clean social network that not only imported your Facebook data, but also offered real privacy protections since Apple is not interested in selling you, your family, your friends and aquaintences to advertisers?

Cambridge Analytica shuts down after Facebook user-data scandal – May 2, 2018
Beleaguered Facebook heading down a troubled path – April 18, 2018
I was one of the very first people on Facebook. I shouldn’t have trusted Mark Zuckerberg – April 17, 2018
Facebook AI predicts your future and sells this info to advertisers – April 16, 2018
Why there shouldn’t be a ‘next Facebook’ – April 13, 2018
How Facebook lets brands and politicians target users – April 11, 2018
Facebook’s Zuckerberg was ready to slam Apple if Congress asked him about Tim Cook’s privacy comments – April 11, 2018
Apple co-founder Woz quits Facebook – April 9, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg admits Facebook scans the contents of all private Messenger texts – April 4, 2018
Facebook to warn 87 million users that their data ‘may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica’ – April 4, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg and the never-ending stench of Facebook – April 2, 2018
Apple may be the biggest winner from Facebook’s data scandal – April 2, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg blasts Apple CEO Cook’s criticism of Facebook as ‘extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth’ – April 2, 2018
Apple CEO Cook: Facebook should have self-regulated, but it’s too late for that now – March 28, 2018
U.S. FTC will investigate Facebook over privacy or lack thereof – March 26, 2018
Apple CEO Cook calls for more data oversight, ‘well-crafted regulation’ after Facebook debacle – March 26, 2018
Facebook has been collecting call history and SMS data from Android devices for years; Apple iOS devices unaffected – March 25, 2018
Apple CEO Cook ramps up pressure on Facebook, calls for more regulations on data privacy – March 24, 2018
Steve Jobs tried to warn Mark Zuckerberg about privacy in 2010 – March 23, 2018
Facebook has gotten too big, too powerful, too influential for Mark Zuckerberg to handle – March 23, 2018
How to block Facebook completely from your Mac – March 22, 2018
How Facebook made it impossible to delete Facebook – March 22, 2018
What to expect from Facebook’s Zuckerberg if he testifies before Congress – March 21, 2018
Why Facebook’s blatant disregard for users’ privacy could be very good for Apple – March 21, 2018
Facebook’s surveillance machine – March 21, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg AWOL from Facebook’s damage control session – March 20, 2018
U.S. FTC reportedly probing Facebook’s abuse of personal data as UK summons Zuckerberg for questioning – March 20, 2018
The problem isn’t Cambridge Analytica: It’s Facebook – March 19, 2018
Apple: Privacy is a fundamental right – September 27, 2017


  1. “Imagine if Apple created a clean social network that not only imported your Facebook data, but also offered real privacy protection”

    Just like Apple is doing with Apple Maps (complete rewrite devoid of 3rd party data), I think Apple has and is developing a social media platform to supplant Facebook, Instagram et al. I have no special knowledge to support this assertion other than I think Facebook is vulnerable and Apple predicted this (internally) several years ago, and has been preparing for the expected eventuality since.

    I shut down my own Facebook account several years ago. With a privacy-focused Apple social media venue, I would reenter the social media realm.

      1. I know, Ping was for iTunes, but it was still an attempt at social networking by Apple. It wouldn’t be the first time they learned from a failure to only do it better the next time.

          1. The 2nd one however depends on the failure of the first mouse and the avoidance by the second of what did the first in. Doubt Google falls into that category. 😛

  2. “Apple predicted this (internally) several years ago”

    I think this explains Cook harping on privacy issues as strongly as he has for the past few years. He is making privacy an issue where it wasn’t previously.

    With all the revelations about the misuse of personal data recently, privacy has become an important consideration for users. With no viable alternatives, users are staying put. Once a viable alternative (that isn’t interested in personal data) appears I think we will see a mass migration to the new platform.

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