After Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress over the Facebook scandal, many questions were left unanswered and many Facebook users were left concerned.
On April 10, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned by Congress for nearly five hours on what exactly went down with Cambridge Analytica, a UK political data firm that improperly accessed data on 87 million people. However, many Facebook users were left with many questions after listening to the hearing for themselves, and some were just left rather confused as to what all this even meant for them.
Philly Vasquez, an alumna of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with a computer science degree, said she has worked in IT Computer Science for nearly 15 years.
“The average person might know how to use technology, but they do not actually know how it works,” Vasquez said. “The questions that Congress was asking Zuckerberg were actually pretty valid because people do not actually know how invasive that coding works and how these apps actually track you even when you leave sites.”
Vasquez continued stating that in her previous job she used to write codes that would actually track people for wherever they went on the internet. One question that stood out during Zuckerberg’s hearing was Congress asked if a user was using Whatsapp messenger could Facebook have access to that. Zuckerberg said Facebook wouldn’t be able to since it was a different site, but Vasquez stated otherwise.
“Users would think that when they are on Facebook they are only being tracked on Facebook, but the reality of it is that they are actually being tracked by third parties as well,” Vasquez said. “These apps can actually track you from one app to another; I wrote the codes to allow, to actually do this; now I am not entirely sure about viewing the actual messages, because we would just track what app you were on previously, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were doing this.”
Vasquez also said the privacy depends on the agreements between the different companies, so it is not unreasonable for Congress to ask Zuckerberg if they have agreements with different companies. Even if it is not in their agreements, Vasquez said there are times when information is shared.
Senior nursing and health major Eric Manuel Flores said now is the time for everyone to really open their eyes.
“I know the majority of our generation doesn’t feel the need to read through pages and pages of policy agreements, so we tend to skip ahead,” Flores said. “I’ve always done it myself. However, I am most definitely going to start reading what I accept on these privacy terms because we don’t even know what we are agreeing to; however I do think that these terms shouldn’t be pages and pages.”
Facebook has now began sending out privacy notifications as to how users can ensure their information is protected.