“By sharing with a hundred friends on a social media platform, which is an affirmative social act to publish, to disclose, to share ostensibly private information with a hundred people, you have… negated any reasonable expectation of privacy.”
So claimed Facebook lawyer Orin Snyder in a Californian court case in which Facebook is being sued for invasion of privacy.
There is no case to answer, Facebook insists, because once you give your data to Facebook, you also give up your right to privacy. That is why, said Snyder, “every parent says to their child, ‘Do not post it on Facebook if you don’t want to read about it tomorrow morning in the school newspaper’”.
Keep his comments in mind as Facebook plans the launch of Libra, its own digital currency. It is, we are told, a means of breaking free from the sordid hold of banks and of decentralizing the financial system. The Libra Association, overseeing its development, includes, among others, Mastercard, PayPal and Uber, hardly companies whose aim is to set you free.
Far from decentralizing the financial system, Libra will further centralize our data. Calibra, the company that will develop products and services based around Libra, says it will “use customer data to conduct research projects related to financial inclusion and economic opportunity”.
In other words, as Privacy International observes, “even more intimate profiling of individuals allowing organizations to offer products and services with discriminatory pricing based on a large dossier of data”.
As a future parent might say, “Do not deposit it in Facebook if you don’t want your financial details read about tomorrow morning by every money-grabbing company.”
*Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist.