Facebook doesn't know what most of its user data is used for

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Facebook privacy engineers warn that the company would have a hard time committing to privacy laws as it largely has no idea how its system uses the data it collects.

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As global regulators begin to crack down on how companies collect and handle user data, many are now figuring out how to operate under more restrictive policies. Facebook, however, will have a much harder time than most. As it turns out, the company can't actually tell where its user data comes from or where the data is stored.

A leaked internal document, seen by Engadget, sheds some light on the situation.

Facebook privacy engineers wrote that the company has no real way to keep track of the data it collects. Instead, the social media platform's "open border" systems gather and consolidate user data from a wide range of first- and third-party sources.

Once the data is consolidated, there is no way to tell whether or not it came explicitly from Facebook. The report goes on to state how this would make committing to policy changes nearly impossible.

"We do not have an adequate level of control and explainability over how our systems use data, and thus we can't confidently make controlled policy changes or external commitments such as "we will not use X data for Y purpose." And yet, this is exactly what regulators expect us to do, increasing our risk of mistakes and misrepresentation."

The company's privacy team has submitted a plan to annotate data with Purpose Policy Framework (PPF) -- that is to say, tag it as being created on Facebook -- to keep track of first-party data.

To do so, the company will need to funnel "tens-of-thousands" of uncontrolled data ingestion points into a "choke point." Once in the choke point, the data will be annotated with PPF policy, allowing Facebook to accurately track the user data it would be responsible for.

In August, Facebook announced that it would be pivoting toward "privacy-enhancing" technology for creating targeted advertising. Allegedly, the company was working to create a system that delivers personalized ads without needing data about individual users.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    Maybe this level of irresponsible behavior should not be tolerated, and this kind of company should be punished and dissolved
    chasmlolliveross117scstrrftdknoxStrangeDaysCluntBaby92magman1979watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 2 of 14
    I imagine the privacy team sits in the basement, like the IT team on the IT Crowd.
    lolliverbloggerblogoss117FileMakerFellerscstrrftdknoxStrangeDaysmagman1979watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 3 of 14
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,529member
    Well of course they don't see this as concerning, or a problem, etc.
    FileMakerFellerscstrrfwatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 4 of 14
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 834member
    If anyone still thinks Mark Z ever care about FB/WhatsApp/Instagram user’s’ privacy, I have a very bad news for you. 

    Let’s hope Elon will not be the next Mark Z. 
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 5 of 14
    No surprise, if “ Facebook DOES know what most of its user data is used for”, then it will be a news XD.
    muthuk_vanalingamcornchipmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,256member
    of course they know, saying they don’t is just a deceptive attempt to get themselves off the hook. 
    oss117CluntBaby92watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 7 of 14
    oss117oss117 Posts: 2member
    Reality beats fiction..... FB and extras is an open door for .... control, if the price is right.

    NO FB and ... for me.
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 8 of 14
    This leaves no doubt, Facebook must be curbed at least, maybe even stopped totally. However who will bite the bullet as an unbiased party - Politicians? Don't be silly far too much to lose. Other members of the Media - same answer. In fact anyone who should take a serious interest in the danger, that is this 21st Century Frankenstein represents, has links already and thus they fail the unbiased test. Bad luck folks they outmaneuvered you.
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 9 of 14
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,395member
    It’s somewhat ironic, but fully within their open-loop and uncontrolled way of doing business, that they aren’t talking about one obvious solution to their lack of data traceability - ingesting less data. Or at the very least, only ingesting data that they have a very clear and explicit reason for ingesting. They seem to be very concerned about the cost and performance hit they’d incur by having to attach additional metadata to the data they collect, or piping it all through a centralized decision choke point but haven’t talked about why they are doing what they are doing.

    Well … maybe if they only ingested what they actually need to perform whatever it is they intend to do with the data they would be able to scale back the magnitude of the processing so they could handle it more intelligently and with clear intent and purpose. It’s like they are a glutton at a buffet vacuuming up everything they see in front of them whether or not they actually want or need what they are stuffing into their pie hole. 

    I wonder if or when Facebook will learn that there are actually benefits to not being stupid. Unless of course they are only acting stupid to obscure their true intentions … hmm. Which one is it Zucker-bot, actually being stupid or just playing stupid? 
    muthuk_vanalingamscstrrfwatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Let's say, arguendo, that Facebook is telling the truth, and that it would be a horrendously expensive, lengthy, and probably very damaging undertaking to attempt to comply with these new laws to the EU regulators' satisfaction. Now combine that with enforcement mechanisms that include repeating fines of 10% of worldwide revenue, then 20%, and eventually leading to forced breakup of the company into pieces, and the selling-off of its assets, IP, and brands.

    Is that going to happen? No. What will happen is that Facebook will exit the EU market. People who think it won't/can't are going to be surprised.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,363member
    darelrex said:
    Let's say, arguendo, that Facebook is telling the truth, and that it would be a horrendously expensive, lengthy, and probably very damaging undertaking to attempt to comply with these new laws to the EU regulators' satisfaction. Now combine that with enforcement mechanisms that include repeating fines of 10% of worldwide revenue, then 20%, and eventually leading to forced breakup of the company into pieces, and the selling-off of its assets, IP, and brands.

    Is that going to happen? No. What will happen is that Facebook will exit the EU market. People who think it won't/can't are going to be surprised.
    Damn, another reason I wish I lived in the EU.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 12 of 14
    Novel idea, ban them from collecting data, till they are able to comply with regulations.  I bet they fix this really quickly 
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 13 of 14
    kimberlykimberly Posts: 407member
    I love any AI articles on FB. I don't read the articles at all, I just go straight to the comments  :D
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 14 of 14
    swat671swat671 Posts: 125member
    Hey, yo, Elon, look over here! 
    watto_cobra
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