Facebook and Privacy

Part 1. Introduction

One of the most acute topics that evolve around the nature of privacy, trademark, copyright in digital media, trade secrets, defamation, and hackers and that are discussed by many people around the world today concerns the most popular social network called Facebook. This online service was founded in 2004 by the Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg (“Facebook About”, n.d.), attracting large numbers of individuals from various countries and age ranges ever since. Registration on Facebook requires creating a page by entering personal information about an individual, interests, and activities. This information is a powerful tool that can be used against the interests of that individual if security of privacy of the page is not strong enough or is in some way violated. Thus, this paper focuses on the issue of Facebook and privacy and a new ad of Atlas network on Facebook.

Part 2. What are Facebook’s Ultimate Goals?

According to the official Facebook page, its work is based on celebration of how its friends inspire, support, and help it to explore the world through connecting people around the globe. The mission of the Facebook social networking site is to provide people with an opportunity to share and encourage the world to be more open. Facebook is used to stay in touch with other people, including family and friends, to explore the world, and to express and share experiences, moods, and life events (“Facebook About”, n.d.).

The book Introduction to Information Systems: Enabling and Transforming Business contains information on Facebook’s ultimate goal, which is similar to the site’s mission: it is to create a global website where an individual could type a name of another individual, find him/her, and communicate with him/her easily (Rainer et al., 2010).

According to the Information Security professional in California, Daniel Miessler, the Facebook’s ultimate goal is to become the portal to the Internet, similarly to the AOL, in the past referred to as America Online and today known as American Mass Media Corporation. Miessler argues that Facebook does not have concrete ultimate competitors like Twitter. It is competing against any online service that can potentially take public off Facebook. For example, recently it has added new search capabilities to its services, which are supposed to overtake popular search engines like Google because they possess intelligence of personalization. This means that if, for example, a person is searching for a book, this person will not simply get multiple results, but will also receive information on what their friends think of that book too. Miessler claims that the endgame of Facebook is to become everything to everybody so that people there could do anything they could possibly imagine doing on the internet (“Facebook’s ultimate goal is to become AOL”, 2014). In other words, the ultimate goal of Facebook is to become the only site people visit every day. While becoming all-in-one internet service for everyone could be the ultimate endgame for Facebook, it is still rather broad. Thus, there are more concrete goals of Facebook that will eventually lead it to the ultimate goal that Miessler talks about.

One of the ultimate goals revealed by Mark Zuckerberg is to bring the rest of the global population online, meaning the remaining five billion individuals. Besides, according to Zuckerberg, Facebook plans to make internet access ubiquitous so that information could be exchanged through the social network by all people without exceptions (“Facebook reveals long-term goals”, 2013). According to the Forbes magazine, Facebook's ultimate goal is indeed to bring the internet access to literarily every individual in the world, which the magazine calls an “ambitious” goal. This is planned to be achieved from the sky, using satellites, drones, and lasers, which Facebook already works on (Barnes, 2014).

In order to reach all long-term goals of adding new developments and features, thus, eventually getting to the ultimate goal, Facebook must work on maximizing its revenues. Since using Facebook is free of charge, one of the ways the site generates its revenues is through online advertising (Roberts, 2010).

Part 3. How Will Those Ultimate Goals Affect Facebook Users in the Future?

The most important result of the Facebook’s long-term goals united under the ultimate objective of making this social network everything to everyone is a greatly increased number of Facebook users. Thus, any individual will be able to find and communicate with another individual easily and with minimum efforts. Besides, fulfillment of the ultimate goal will help people search for various kinds of information without even leaving their Facebook page. This opportunity will ease the very process of using internet. With so many people being easily accessible online, it will be beneficial for companies to advertise their products more effectively and make people learn about products of these companies more conveniently.

However, convenient means of reaching people online brings up the issue of their private information accessibility. Even though all individuals post their personal information on Facebook willingly, they may or may not be aware that by being available online their data could be used by a third party. Privacy settings on Facebook are not always completely utilized. According to several studies, Facebook users may change the way their private data are seen by other users, but privacy settings may not be set up properly due to either ignorance or a common misconception that bad things do not happen to a person. Vice President of public policy and communications Elliot Schrage employed by Facebook claims that one of the goals of advertising on social networking sites is to be interesting and relevant primarily to its users. Despite the fact that Facebook assures people that all personal information provided online is protected and advertisers can receive only demographic data and not personal data, people are still not completely sure what information exactly is shared and who receives that information. Hence, Facebook cannot guarantee that all personal information is protected from third parties (Roberts, 2010).

Part 4. The New Facebook Ad of Atlas Network “The New Atlas Network”

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is launching a new advertising network Atlas, which is based on the acquisition from Microsoft in 2013, in order to effectively compete with Google (Marshall, 2014). Facebook’s news site Inside Facebook reports that Atlas is aimed at helping marketers measure their ads performance more effectively. In terms of the global share of online advertising revenues, Facebook ranks second at 7.79% after Google with 31.45% share (Lafferty, 2014).

According to the news magazine Wired, the new ad of Atlas network will allow organizations to use information on social networks to place ads on different websites. The launch of Atlas by Facebook is a symbol of web advertisement control, Wired argues, as well as a strong rivalry with Google for this control. In fact, Facebook has already signed an agreement with Omnicom to start launching ads for Intel and Pepsi. The site’s property Instagram enables Atlas as well (Lapowsky, 2014).

According to the news site The Verge, Facebook uses cookies in order to track websites that an individual visits on a personal computer in order to show advertisements once that individual returns to the Facebook page. Atlas allows seeing the same advertisements from Facebook not only on other online sites, but also on an individual’s phone. It also calculates the percentage of people who have purchased something after seeing the ad in order to share this information with advertisers (Hamburger, 2014).

Part 5. Pros and Cons of the new Atlas Network

The launch of the new Facebook ad of Atlas network has both pros and cons. With regards to the advantages of Atlas, Facebook will most likely benefit from it. It will provide new sources for revenues and, thus, Facebook will be able to launch new services and enhance the social network development in general to make the process of using Facebook and staying connected more convenient for its users. New advertisements might also be actually interesting to the public on Facebook and information about advertised products and services will be more easily accessible for people. Finally, Atlas is considered to make Facebook stronger in terms of competition.

However, there are cons associated with Atlas. The most important disadvantage of the Atlas network is a risk of sharing private information with a third party, which is not always desired by Facebook users. Even though Facebook claims that it never discloses identity and other private data of its users, Atlas may still raise questions with regards to security of personal information among individuals registered on Facebook (Hamburger, 2014). It may force people to lose trust, thus making them unwilling to stay on Facebook at all, which in turn may disrupt the site’s ultimate goals of turning the rest of the population into its users and becoming everything to everyone. Besides, the Wired magazine expresses an opinion that the more advertising partners Facebook creates within its network, the more information it will have to disclose to them eventually (Lapowsky, 2014).

Part 6. Conclusion

This essay has focused on the issue of Facebook and privacy associated with the launch of the new Facebook ad entitled Atlas network. There are several pros of this new network as well as cons, which may increase the risk of people questioning the level of security relating to their private information on Facebook.

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