[Editorial Analysis] Can sharing be private?

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security

Prelims level: Social Media

Mains level: Security loopholes associated with social media

Context

• Facebook has been facing flak for privacy violations.

• The most notorious of these was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Under relentless pressure from regulators to tighten its privacy safeguards, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a post last week, appears to have made a 180-degree shift in what Facebook has stood for all along: from sharing and openness, to privacy and encryption.

• In a 3,200-word post on Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg unveiled what he calls “a privacy-focused vision for social networking”.

• Facebook is a company whose very business model is built on encouraging, coaxing, and manipulating people to share more and more of their private lives.

• So understandably, its founder’s latest posture on privacy has struck many as little more than posturing.

Major outlines highlighted by Mr. Zuckerberg

• All social media activity would be end-to-end encrypted, as WhatsApp currently is, across Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

• The users could post ‘ephemeral’ messages that would all get automatically get deleted unless they specified otherwise.

• An interoperability, which would enable users to seamlessly send and receive messages across WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or SMS, would be possible owing to a unification of the technological back-end of all these platforms. Many fear that this might open the gateway for massive data mining and be a way to duck anti-trust legislation.

• Facebook will not store data in countries that have a questionable record in protecting human rights such as privacy and free speech. This is to protect users’ privacy by ensuring that data is not “improperly accessed.”

Way forward

• As per Mr. Zuckerberg’s analogy, it also signals a shift in Facebook Inc’s centre of gravity from the social network imagined as a town square (Facebook), where you are sharing something with all or most of your friends, to the social network imagined as your living room (such as a small WhatsApp or Messenger group), where a more intimate and more private sharing can take place.

• Mr. Zuckerberg’s answer suggests that the ‘pivot to privacy’ would itself be based on a pivot towards “payments, commerce, and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services.” He hasn’t offered a time frame for effecting this transition.

• Facebook’s long history of sacrificing privacy at the altar of Mammon, many remain sceptical.

• Mr. Zuckerberg emphasized that , “Facebook is changing. From now on, sharing is private. War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.”

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which of the following is/are correct with reference to the Cantonment Board?

1. It is established for municipal administration for civilian population in the cantonment area.

2. It works under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

3. It consists of partly elected and partly nominated members.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Facebook’s ‘pivot to privacy’ plan signals a shift in its centre of gravity. What happens to Facebook’s ad-based business model in such a scenario?

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