News, Technology

Facebook CEO Answering Tough Questions From US Government

Mark Zuckerberg. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Mark Zuckerberg. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Mark Zuckerberg, the high-profile creator and CEO of social media website Facebook, is being asked a lot of tough questions by the US government.

US Senators were asking him how Facebook uses the personal information it collects on people who use the popular social media website.

When people join Facebook and use it, they provide lots of information on themselves. Companies pay to use that information when they post advertisements.

If they have information about a person — for instance, whether they have kids, or where they like to go on holiday — they can do a better job targetting ads at them. That makes the person more likely to buy the product that’s being advertised.

That’s only one way companies use people’s personal information. Other people, who may be less honest, can sometimes use personal information to try to take advantage of people.

Facebook claims to protect people’s private information. However, a company called Cambridge Analytica was able to get a lot of personal information about more than 87 million Facebook users. Information it shouldn’t have gotten.

Cambridge Analytica is a political marketing firm. That means, it produces advertisements for various political parties.

Even Facebook admits it should have done a better job protecting that information.

In fact, even Zuckerberg’s own personal information was sold by Cambridge Analytica to another company.

Zuckerberg had to answer a lot of questions about how it does or doesn’t protect personal information. Over 10 hours last week, he was asked questions by nearly 100 members of the US Congress. (Congress is a branch of the United States government.) This week, he will face more questions, this time from the Unites States’ Federal Trade Commission (known as the FTC).

One of the things the FTC does is protect consumers from “unfair and deceptive practices,” according to Time Magazine.

There are some ways Facebook users can help to protect their own information. For instance, when they post on Facebook, they can choose not to make that information public. They can also go into their Privacy Settings and make their information less public.

After Zuckerberg himself had his personal information resold, “if even the CEO cannot lock down his privacy settings, who can?” asks The Guardian news organization.

Perhaps the only sure way to not have any personal information shared without your permission–is to not use Facebook at all.

Related Links

A photographer snapped a photo of Mark Zuckerberg’s notes at the Congressional hearings. Here’s AP photographer Andrew Harnik’s article on how it happened.

Some saw the photo of Zuckerberg’s notes as an invasion of his privacy. Other people said it was interesting that his own private information was being shared so publicly.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Why is personal information so valuable? How might you feel if you personal information was used in a way that you did not agree to?

Reading Prompt: Responding and Evaluating Texts
The final sentence in today’s article reveals quite a bit about the author. What does it tell you? Use the text to support your opinion.

Make judgments and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views
 (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts 
(OME, Reading: 1.8).

Language Feature: Introductory Material (Comma Usage)
Commas can be used in many ways. One of the ways that they are used is to separate introductory material from the body of a sentence. Take for example, “Once upon a time, there were three little bears.” The body of this sentence is, “there were three little bears.” This sentence makes complete sense on its own. However, when the author added, “Once upon a time,” they added a short little intro to add to the sentence.

Reread today’s article and identify all of the sentences that use a commas in this way.