Beaverton, OR — Beaverton working mother of two Elaine Odell is worried she might have overshared on social media. She rarely has time for social media between her job at Intel, shuffling the children to their charter schools, and other domestic tasks. However, recently she’s taken to answering what experts call data harvesting posts on Facebook. Now, after reading an article on the subject, Ms. Odell wonders if she inadvertently answered the wrong question.
“I’m not Facebook maybe three times a week, and I probably answered one of those stupid questions the wrong way,” said Ms. Odell recalling her social media activity from the previous week. “Or maybe Alexa or my phone picked up something I said. I dunno. All I know is I don’t need as much black clock as the Internet thinks I do. Lord knows I’ve had plenty of them in my lifetime.”
Facebook has been under fire for several issues. A data breach in fall 2018 exposed information about 30 million of its users to hackers. A few months later, the company was also criticized for paying individuals to install an app that collected their smartphone habits voluntarily. Recently, it’s dealing with concerns that some of the quizzes available on the platform have been used to collect data from unsuspecting users.
And now, former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen accused the company of sowing division for profit.
“Users are unwittingly giving all of their PPI (personal private information) over to faceless and unaccountable social media companies,” said Professor James Badwater of the University of Chicago’s Badwater Institute for Media and Digestive Issues. “These questions you see on Facebook and other platforms may seem innocuous, but not to a data scientist who is actively building an online persona of you.”
As for Ms. Odell, she is going to be more careful about what she shares on Facebook.
“I think the lesson is, think about what you’re doing. I mean, I love black clocks as much as anyone, but Facebook doesn’t need to know that.”