Facebook’s Diplomacy

A recent Belgian study found data backing up something that we all sort of know to be true: Facebook is placing cookies on our browsers and tracking us all the time, regardless of whether or not we are logged in.  More shocking than the data itself is that this is in direct violation of a European Union law. The law states that websites must have the permission of the user before placing cookies on their browsers.

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While Facebook obviously denies this claim and has been fairly cooperative in its willingness to prove its factual inaccuracies, it makes me think a bit about the diplomatic effects that our mass media organizations may have. The government has already gotten in trouble for invading the privacy of other nations, and I wonder if data collection by mass media companies might create similar problems?

I doubt Europeans feel comfortable with powerful American media corporations having all their data, potentially leading them to abandon such platforms. Additionally, these practices might make global organizations hesitant to engage in business with us for fear of data tracking, legal violations, ethical standards, etc. Either way, I think more than our privacy is at stake when this data is collected.

Additionally, if Europeans are criticizing this practice and passing laws about it, why is the same not being done in America? Obviously data-collecting companies like Facebook have their critics here in the states, but are our government entities too consumed with the money made from advertising based on this data to think about the larger potential implications? I don’t know the details of American laws surrounding personal data collection and I certainly haven’t read Facebook’s Terms of Service, but it seems like Americans, myself included, could be more thoughtful about the larger potential implications of these common data collection practices.

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