$2 Trillion Fine for Facebook

The media may have wrecked Facebook (FB) in its zeal to find some dirt on Donald Trump. There was no "hack" of Facebook in the sense of breaching data servers, all Cambridge Analytica did was figure out how to obtain the publicly exposed data. It exposed reality to hundreds of millions of clueless users who don't realize their Facebook data is insecure.

Endgadget: Facebook may have broken FTC deal in Cambridge Analytica incident
Facebook, for its part, said that it "reject[s] any suggestion" that it violated the consent decree. It maintained that it "respected" users' privacy settings.

If the FTC did find violations, Facebook could be on the hook for some very hefty fines -- albeit fines that aren't likely to be as hefty as possible. The decree asks for fines as large as $40,000 per person, but that would amount to roughly $2 trillion. Regulators like the FTC historically push for fines they know companies can pay, which would suggest fines that are 'just' in the billion-dollar range. Given that there are already multiple American and European investigations underway, any financial penalty would be just one piece of a larger puzzle.
Only last week there was a flaw that exposed partial payment data from user accounts.

Security Week: Facebook Flaws Exposed Friend Lists, Payment Card Data
Facebook users can prevent others from seeing their friends, but the vulnerability discovered by Franjković could have been exploited to obtain this information regardless of the targeted user’s privacy settings.

GraphQL is an open source data query language designed by Facebook for its mobile applications. GraphQL queries can only be used for Facebook’s own applications—only whitelisted query IDs are allowed—and they require an access token.

Franjković discovered that he could use the client token from the Facebook app for Android, and he could bypass the whitelist by sending a request containing a “doc_id” parameter instead of “query_id.”
The list of things he obtained with this query:
first 6 card digits (BIN), identifies the bank that issued the card

last 4 digits

expiry month and year

card type

cardholder first name

zip code and country
Social media through the mid-2010s was a peak social mood industry. Users still willingly give tons of personal information that is exposed to the public, including anyone who might want to use it. Platforms such as Facebook also aren't walled. Friends, family and acquaintances are all lumped together. This is a peak social mood format because at peak mood people are more open and outgoing, all the way through political arrangements (the euro launched right as mood peaked in the year 2000). As social mood turned more negative, conflict increased on social media, particularly on open platforms such as Facebook. (One interesting data point to chart would be the number of blocks/mutes per user on social meia, I suspect the chart might look similar to Bitcoin over the past couple of years.) In response, Twitter, Facebook and others are regularly banning users for content because users upset with content were leaving. Advertisers getting blow-back because their ad appearing next to objectionable content (objectionable being whatever might get a few dozen people on social media worked up about) also complained. Now users are leaving because of censorship, exacerbated by a clear political bias in what gets deemed to be abusive content.

Back to Big Tech and social media: the tide is turning against these firms. The public is growing weary of their power and the potential for abuse. The Internet was supposed to be a decentralized and open technology connecting the world, but a handful of companies sit at the crossroads and control what content is seen by users. The companies themselves are turning authoritarian in their control, another sign of increasingly negative social mood. Social media is suffering because its users are fracturing along with the culture and media. There is no longer a "mainstream" in America. When people are pushed together on social media in a time of negative mood, it increases tensions. These companies are almost in a no win situation, the only way out may be to do as consumer companies do and segment their customers with multiple brands. Otherwise, they can't win. Censorship free, open platforms causes users to quit. Censorship causes users to quit. An angry public will increasingly call for regulation of the industry.

The outlook for big social media is negative unless it can successfully fracture its market and appeal to all users. Otherwise, it will break apart as it becomes hated by everyone.

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