The lie that can sway
While Facebook has harvested the data of two billion subscribers, astoundingly, 90 per cent data on the virtual medium is fake, asserts Sushil Kutty
A Facebook 'friend' who once deactivated their account from the Social Media platform is back on board. Wonder why when there is a hashtag #DeleteFacebook going viral with ordinary and extraordinary men and women taking the bus out of 'Zuck Town'. Asked 'Why?', the Facebook 'friend' said he didn't want to miss the action and that right now all the action was on Facebook, with people moving out in thousands of droves.
Mark Zuckerberg, who himself was MIA following the disclosure that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm, 'harvested data' of 50 million FB users to help political parties including Donald Trump's GOP, influence elections, surfaced on Wednesday to inform two billion FB friends that he was on to the game and would seal all the leaks, just you wait and see!
Thank you Zucky, you're a pal. But young 'friend', you sit on a mighty big load of personal crap of the two billion on your platform. And, you haven't condemned yourself enough to get off the hook so easily. Cambridge Analytica must have been the one who harvested the data but, you Zucky were the one who let CA access the personal data from FB.
Christian missionaries and evangelicals talked about harvesting souls from Asia and Africa, the Far East, China, but who would have thought harvesting personal data of FB Friends would be so chillingly scary that it would give the creeps to 'Friends' who're now deleting FB from their timelines on the planet. Zucky, you knit-picking grey-tee-shirt creep, Facebook has made it so much difficult to delete – 99 per cent of all the world's apps run with the express permission of FB. Whatsapp, FB owns lock-stock-and-barrel, and Instagram is a picture in FB's pocket! Shouldn't we lynch Zucky, throw Zucky to the mercy of the Cow Vigilante!
If people wonder why all the hysteria, then prepare to be worried. Even if somebody never had an FB account, somebody's personal data will still find its way to FB. Check somebody's smartphone: does it have a Facebook app? Check the data and power usage. "I don't have a Facebook account but I discovered Facebook was downloading data from my phone; not only that, it was nicking my electricity to do so," said an old-world friend.
Is that possible? Well, a week of revelations about Cambridge Analytica's use of data harvested from FB has left the world wondering. India's IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad came on TV to accuse rival Congress Party of tying up with CA to undermine the 2019 elections. Prasad shouldn't have jumped the gun. He is the Union Minister for Law, too, and he should have come out left and centre and revealed that his own party BJP was also a CA client once.
Prasad has sent a warning to Zuckerberg, too. And the United States Congress wants Zuckerberg to present himself at Capitol Hill and explain. But he will 'escape', that is for sure -- there and here. That is because people are looking at 'how FB was misused by CA' not 'how FB misused Friends'. For, let's admit it, at the end of the day, FB is a 'data analytics firm' itself, "which uses its position as a middleman for a vast proportion of all human communication to find out everything there is to know about its users."
FB boasts that it can influence more than half the human population. Maybe; but not all the personal data of the two billion human beings locked in FB is authentic data. That is because human beings lie to friends more often than they tell the truth. A friend who joined FB in June 2011 garnered close to a 100 FB friends in a week. These were people he knew over the last 10-15 years, had met them in person, worked with many of them in the same office environment, drank with and shared pads with. Three were long lost school friends who he didn't know how they had shaped up in the last 30 years of disconnect. It was eerie, odd discovering them anew, and there was much FB Wall-bonhomie.
But it was the friends he had come to know very well over the last 10-15 years who baffled him. Real pals, they were different from what they were as he well knew them. As 'FB friends', they were completely and totally different hombres. That was because every one of them was lying. Each one of them was a 'good guy', 'great guy', without a blemish guy, sublime hero; every one of them in FB was writing about himself in glowing terms – upright, honest, lovable, gender-neutral with a great record in championing women's rights; who never once stalked girls on the streets growing up in hometown, raised an arm in anger, and was a fountain of knowledge on everything under the sun.
He knew different and, boy, were the 'strangers', different? Within the next four weeks, he was dumped by 99 per cent of all these 'FB friends' he knew in person because he told them, straight to their FB Wall: "Hey you cannot be the 'you' I know." That was it, end of FB friendship. Today, the friend who joined FB in June 2011 has some 200-odd 'FB friends' and of them, 175 he doesn't know anything about, has never met and would pass them at the airport or railway station without a second glance. But it wouldn't be much of a hard guess to assert that every one of them must be lying while on FB.
Christopher Wylie, the CA whistleblower, told a UK newspaper he helped CA to harvest millions of people's profiles from FB, to build models to "exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons." And, the belief is that even if you're a passive user of Facebook, providing minimal details of your life, FB can still learn a lot about you.
But what if 90 per cent of the personal data of its two billion human followers are lies – outright bluffs, fibbing of an order that if all the lies are piled one atop the other we will be able to track Stephen Hawking's soul to a remote corner of the multi-universe 80 billion light-years away – lies that do not give enough of the 'real man/real woman' to target his/her inner demons, what then?
An overwhelming majority of Indians operate on FB (there are 200 million Indians with smartphones) with a different good/better/best personality. They are all positive individuals. High achievers or aspiring high achievers. Up to date in every which way. Good sons. Great Fathers. Best husbands. Fantastic lovers. Considerate neighbours. Born intelligent. Experts on Cricket. Critical of others. Not critical of themselves. But very helpful. Every one of them is a paragon of Justice. Peace-loving. Honest to good, hard workers. Excellent bosses. On FB, they live in an alternate world where there are no inner demons, imagined or real, to trouble them, get exploited. They harvest 'likes'. They are the League of Liars! They cannot be influenced!!
(The views expressed are strictly personal)