Facebook is telling on you

FILLERS

BY JOHN CULLEN

People who are concerned about their privacy ought to think twice — or more — if they use Facebook.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his crew know more about you than you do. They know who your friends are, your political beliefs, what you eat, your location right now and where you were yesterday and last month, and they know all your friends and relatives because they have access to your Contacts list on your cellphone or computer.

Not only do they know all the most intimate details about your life, so do the many other companies to which they sell your private information. And you have no idea who is buying this information about you.

This has been known for years, but it was made abundantly clear this week in a two-night Frontline documentary on PBS, which examined in detail how Facebook enabled Russian hackers to game our elections, and how it enabled revolutions in Egypt and other countries during the Arab Spring a couple years ago. When the movement got out of hand, thousands of demonstrators died and the revolution produced dictators who were even worse than the despots they overthrew.

To be clear, Facebook didn’t start the revolutions, and didn’t encourage the Russian election hackers, but Facebook’s lack of oversight and controls, coupled with rapid growth of users, enabled malefactors.

And it allowed Really Fake News to be spread to gullible Facebook users, who believed outlandish stories such as Hillary Clinton running a pedophile ring in the basement of a Washington, DC, pizza parlor (which didn’t even have a basement) or President Barack Obama being born in Kenya, not Hawaii, despite birth records to the contrary.

And most experts believe the Russians are at it again prior to next week’s elections.

Crazy stuff like that gets spread because Facebook, unlike newspapers and legitimate broadcasters, exercises almost no control over what is put out. It doesn’t have enough staff to review the millions of new posts every day. And Facebook wants those millions of posts, from three billion users, so they can sell your personal information to advertisers or anybody else willing to pay to know your secrets.

Newspapers have reputable reporters and editors who, despite what some politicians claim, check the facts and try to ascertain the truth before publishing something. Occasionally mistakes are made in newspapers, and they are promptly corrected when brought to the attention of the editors. People who disdain newspapers and legitimate broadcasters in favor of what they read on Facebook are doing themselves — and our democracy — a huge disservice.

Facebook is a great place to wish your friends happy birthday, celebrate a niece’s birth or other than family news, but don’t rely on it for politics or as an arbiter of truth. We are all being hoodwinked by thought thieves on Facebook. Trust The Times.