“Privacy, Zuckerberg believes, renders us inauthentic. After all, Facebook knows what’s best for us.” Much like the situation surrounding WikiLeaks, the data breach involving Facebook releasing 87 million profiles to the political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica in 2015 demonstrates, yet again, ways in which organizations use the internet as a way to carry out and cover-up immoral and potentially illegal information that seriously upset the general public. This invasion of privacy in sharing Facebook users information in this way illustrates a form of manipulation that only exists within the realm of the internet and is done is such a seemingly flawless way that it almost goes undetected. The Guardian reporter, Siva Vaidhyanathan, writes that, “the concentrated political power of organized, wealthy companies outweighs the distributed power of disorganized citizens,” and comments on Facebook’s lack of security and being “subject both to massive data breaches and to political hijacking”. Facebook skilfully instils a false sense of control and security to its users: “Zuckerberg yearns for Facebook to become the operating system of our lives, making decisions for us, guiding us, and enlightening us through more efficient consumption. This is a manner of unfreedom masked as maximum freedom.” Facebook, being a major international corporation, makes the lies they tell their users very appropriate to them but to their 2.3 billion users, it introduces the company’s effectiveness and moral integrity when it comes to personal protection: “Every single time that you share something on Facebook or one of our services, right there is a control in line where you control who you want to share with,” Zuckerberg told the US Congress earlier this year. This is a lie. We never controlled, nor could we know, what Yandex knew of our Facebook activity and what – of anything – it offered the Russian government or its various proxies that have engaged in worldwide propaganda attacks using social media.” It is the fact that Facebook transfers user personal data without our knowledge or permission, justified through the Ludacris notion that Facebook knows best for its users is staggering and this being illuminated to the public has raised some serious concerns surrounding privacy laws when using the internet. “These two principles – that Facebook is benevolent and that privacy is quaint and inefficient – drive everything Facebook does. They go a long way to explain why Facebook continued to give precious user data to a set of “trusted” partners years after the company claimed it had ended such a program.”
The term “meme” derives from the Greek term, ‘mimema’, meaning ‘imitated’. The Urban Dictionary defines “meme culture” as “he evolving culture surrounding Memes. Originally only found on the internet, meme culture can be seen in many real world examples, such as the dab and bottle flip, among many others”. On April 10 2018, CEO and Co-Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress regarding the data breach of 87 million users’ personal information to Cambridge Analytica, and the internet blew up. Countless comments and memes were posted on social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The way in which the social media generation circulate information has taken a rather drastic term from the previously ‘civilized’ way of ordinary newspaper or online articles and general conversation, the internet has since changed the game. Meme culture has risen to such immense heights, with its combining of popular culture references to current events has changed the way in which people acquire information – it’s quite baffling. During his testimony, which lasted over five hours, amidst Congress’ questions regarding Facebook’s users’ privacy one Senator, Senator Dick Durbin, asked if Zuckerberg would be comfortable sharing the name of the hotel he stayed in last night to which Zuckerberg responded, “No. I would probably not choose to do that publicly, here” he said. “I think everyone should have control over how their information is used.” This was a particularly intriguing exchange as Zuckerberg’s own privacy was brought under scrutiny and was met with resistance from Zuckerberg, obviously, which strengthened the argument that there should be privacy laws in place to protect users from such breaches. With regards to the question of Facebook storing and selling personal data Zuckerberg responded with this: “There’s a very common misconception that we sell data to advertisers. We do not sell data to advertisers… What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach, and then we do the placement … That’s a very fundamental part of how our model works and something that is often misunderstood.” Very straightforward questions, that seem to require simple answers, were often met with work-around answers from Zuckerberg. There were key moments during the testimony that were heavily featured in the memes and comments posted online, including the “booster seat” Zuckerberg seemed to be sitting on during the testimony. A particularly popular meme that quickly circulated was an image of Zuckerberg’s face replacing hip-hop artist, Cardi B on her album cover artwork for her album entitled ‘Invasion of Privacy’. Control – that’s what is the driving force in this issue, and in fact surrounding the internet itself, as it is our false sense of security that is being violated by huge corporations that use it promote such negative acts like, “fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.” On July 25 2018, Facebook shares plunged 19%, with Rupert Neate for The Guardian reporting that, “more than $119 billion being wiped off Facebook’s market value,” after it was revealed to the public that more user data was shared than originally thought, igniting a strong sense of distrust towards Facebook from its users as “3 million users in Europe had abandoned the social network site”. Despite this plummet in shares, Facebook still strives as one of the most dominant social networking sites used in today’s society. This poses the question of: What do these corporations have to do in order for everyone to turn our backs on them? I, unfortunately, am guilty of still using Facebook, despite knowing that my privacy has probably been violated more times than I can count. This calls for a more serious investigation into the strong influence and control that the internet has over us, thus illustrates its ultimate power and control.