Anyone who, like me, joined Facebook a decade or more ago, probably clicked “yes” when invited to upload all of their contacts.
It seemed a good way of making the network more useful and, after all, what could be the harm? But after the various data scandals shattered trust in Facebook, we’ve become far more cautious.
We’ve woken up to the harms that could come from handing over that precious information about our social connections – for journalists it could mean revealing their contacts, for whistleblowers their dealings with regulators, for just about anyone their contacts with people they might not want their partners to know about.
Now we know that Facebook somehow scraped up the email contacts of 1.5 million people over a three year period without their agreement. Now every time the social network suggests “people you may know”, we will wonder “How do you know that I may know them?”
To many, the idea that they should trust Facebook with their data seems more old-fashioned by the day.
The ongoing breaches and other criticisms of Facebook are also prompting some high-profile users to bow out. The latest is Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who said she had “quit” the social network.
In an interview with a Yahoo News podcast she said: “I personally gave up Facebook, which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook.”
She added that social media posed a “public health risk”.