In 2019, living a truly private lifestyle requires distancing oneself from electronic gadgets like computers, phones, smartwatches, and home devices like Amazon’s Alexa, or Google’s Nest Hub. It’s an unrealistic way to live, but still technically possible.
Possible, that is, unless you use Facebook, which recently launched a “companion” application for Instagram, which it already owns, called Threads.
Threads is billed as a tool that helps you stay in touch with your closest friends as though you couldn’t already do that via text message, the Facebook chat application, or Facebook-owned chat application WhatsApp. But according to Business Insider, Threads has a sinister side that collects nearly every piece of important data about the user – all the way down to his or her daily routine.
“Threads — and its maker Facebook — ask for a significant amount of data about everyone who uses it, from continuous, 24/7 access to your physical location to your movement and whether you’re working out, and even your battery level,” Business Insider said.
If you’d like Mark Zuckerberg and company to know exactly where you are and what you’re doing at all times, this is the perfect application for you.
“The iOS and Android app’s requests illustrate how Facebook’s thirst for detailed and intimate data about its user base continues unabated, even after two years of scandals and scrutiny over the company’s use and misuse of the personal information of its 2.7 billion users,” Business Insider noted.
Just two months ago, Facebook lost in appellate court in a lawsuit stemming from privacy concerns after it was caught testing facial recognition software on its users without their consent. The appeals court returned the case to a lower court for further deliberation. If Facebook loses the lawsuit, it could face billions in fines.
“We conclude that the development of a face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests,” the appellate court said.
Only a month before that, Facebook was slapped with the largest fine in Federal Trade Commission (FTC) history. The FTC ordered the company to pay $5 billion for playing fast and loose with users’ private data, apparently at the directive of Zuckerberg himself.
The settlement, which was approved along party lines in a 3-2 vote by FTC commissioners, mandates Facebook create independency from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “unfettered control” and unilateral decision making. Facebook will now be forced to create an independence privacy committee on its board of directors.
A settlement of the provision also establishes new mechanisms to ensure the company is held accountable for any future violation
Meanwhile, in the face of overwhelming, unprecedented power held by Big Tech companies, the FTC is considering breaking up the Silicon Valley titans of industry.
“FTC Chairman Joe Simons, who is leading a broad review of the technology sector, said in an interview Tuesday that breaking up a company is challenging, but could be the right remedy to rein in dominant companies and restore competition,” according to Bloomberg.
Facebook and others are currently being investigated by 50 state attorneys general for potential antitrust violations, including buying potential competitors to eliminate competition.