Facebook Shares User Data With Chinese Companies
According to reports, Facebook has been sharing data with at least four tech companies from China. Including one organization that works closely with the Chinese government.
Why Does It Matter?
For one, the Chinese political system has values that are quite the opposite of our own. It isn’t about demonizing the Chinese people, it’s that their government has what’s called a “free-market totalitarian” system.
For the most part, China is very capitalist, they might even be more capitalist than Americans at this point. But where they differ is that their political system is getting closer to a dictatorship rather than a free democracy.
Some might argue it is a dictatorship.
This raises a lot of concern, for a simple reason. If someone with bad intentions takes control of the government, there won’t be a means for Chinese people to stop them from doing whatever it is they want.
More Detail on China
Back in March of 2018, the Chinese government made a series of changes whereby the president of the country, Xi Jinping, would be able to govern for as long as he wanted. Effectively turning the country into a dictatorship.
They also reduced the size of the government for the sake of making it “more efficient.”
However, on the other hand, Jinping is supposedly working on “anti-corruption” measures, while at the same time expanding his term limits to as long as he wants. It’s a bit of a contradiction in itself.
But it’s concerning that the nation is effectively a dictatorship, and Facebook is sharing personal data with companies who are closely related to their government.
The Cambridge Analytics Scandal
This all comes after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that broke back in March of this year.
Facebook had been selling off data to the political consulting firm through online personality quizzes, MyPersonality. And the firm would use the data as a means of figuring out how a user would vote in an upcoming election.
And with the news coming out today, it looks like Facebook is continuing to ruin their reputation as a company that has its customers in mind. If they ever really had that reputation in the first place.
Either way, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for Mark Zuckerberg and his employees to make it appear that way.
Facebook and The Chinese Company, Huawei
The report of their collusion with tech companies coming out of China is based on old business partnerships, rather than new ones.
It’s reasonable to assume that Facebook wouldn’t make the same decisions today, as they did back in 2010 when they first started striking deals for the sake of encouraging users to use the mobile version of the Facebook apps.
According to the New York Times, Facebook gave data to a company called Huawei.
Huawei is a tech company that the American government flagged as a threat to national security.
It isn’t clear why they’re a threat to national security, so that’s something we should be wary about. The company also gave up data to companies like TCL, Oppo, and Lenovo, who are other organizations based out of China.
Officials For FB Say They’re Slowly Backing Away From Old Deals With Chinese Companies
Even though the business partnerships are still ongoing, Facebook officials revealed they would slowly back out of the deals by the end of the week.
The data transfer between the companies allowed for them to offer features including address books, “like” buttons, as well as status updates, said the NYT.
Officials for the social media company said the data given to Huawei wasn’t that different from what they offered to Blackberry.
Yesterday, I wrote that some of the information given to Blackberry made it possible for companies to understand personality and political preferences of the users. Including their religious and political leanings, as well as their work, education, history, and relationship status.
Huawei used their access to the data for the sake of users being able to view messages and social media accounts in one place.
Facebook and Huawei Say The Data Did Not Stay On Their Servers
However, if we’re to believe Facebook and the Chinese government, the information stayed on the phones and not the company’s servers. Either way, US officials are taking Facebook to task for all of this.
One of the Senators, John Thune, explained that the transparency standards the company has to meet are of a “high standard.”
Congress has been all over Facebook lately. And they’re looking to uncover precisely how the company has been dealing with entities outside of the United States.
The US Government Is All Over Facebook
Also, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook to figure out if they are violating the 2011 consent decree.
Just in case you don’t know what the Federal Trade Commission does.
They’re an independent branch of government dedicated for the protection of the consumer.
The federal government created the FTC back in the early 1900’s as a means of fighting against businesses who were monopolizing (or, in other words, unfairly dominating) industries.
And Mark Warner, the Senator of Virginia, said that the news of the business collaboration with Huawei isn’t new. He cited a congressional report on their business practices back in 2012, so they’ve been aware of it for awhile.
Facebook Wants To Work With The Chinese Government
Interestingly, China banned Facebook back in 2009. But slowly, the social media company has been trying to get back into the market-authoritarian country.
Mark Zuckerberg went to the Asian nation and met with the president, Xi Jinping, at a university event. Just last year, Facebook released an application almost identical to the Moments app, but they didn’t put their name on it. So, it looks like they’re slowly moving into that market.
China and Censorship – How Facebook Collaborates With Their Censorship Policies
One thing that’s important to note is that Facebook has collaborated with the Chinese government to target censorship. Some employees at FB were so upset about it that they quit.
The Communist Party And Huawei
Huawei is a company that is slowly expanding and hoping to grow its influence across the world. And China has given them billions of dollars in lines of credit from their state-owned policy banks and they hope to invest in continents like Africa among others.
Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the organization, is a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army. And the United States government has never really trusted the company and have even requested for consumers to avoid their products.
China And The Trade War With The United States
The US government has urged American companies to avoid working with certain companies. For instance, back in January, AT&T refused to sell a smartphone made by the company, the Mate 10.
The government is also looking to see if Huawei broke American trade controls by working with nations such as Syria, Sudan, Iran, and Cuba.
Trump has been adamant at fighting back against some of these companies including Huawei and their rival, ZTE.
The Federal Communications Commission is now bringing forth a plan to ban federally subsidized telecommunications companies from doing business with organizations that the US government looks at as threats to security.
Facebook claims they haven’t started sharing data with ZTE. TCL, another electronics company, said the Trump administration is biased against Chinese products and they dropped out of a deal to buy a San Diego-based company as a result of the feud.
And Canadians have slowly begun shunning companies like that for similar reasons. Lenovo offered to buy Blackberry, stationed out of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, and the Canadian government said no because of national security-related reasons.