Do you think Facebook
is listening to your conversations, through your smartphone or any other gadget? There is an easy solution—stop using Facebook. That is the advice Apple
co-founder Steve Wozniak
says is appropriate for "most people," himself included (he actually did
quit Facebook last year, due to the amount of data collection).
There is a growing concern over privacy
and how big tech firms, Facebook included, handle our collective data. The Cambridge Analytica
scandal is one of the more prominent examples of how things can go sideways. However, it is by far not the only one.
Wozniak made his latest comments about Facebook to TMZ while strolling through Reagan National Airport in DC on Friday.
"There are many different kinds of people and some, the benefits of Facebook are worth the loss of privacy. But to many like myself, my recommendation is to most people, you should figure out a way to get off Facebook," Wozniak said.
Part of the concern that users have is it seems like Facebook listens to our conversations, and then blasts us with targeted ads based on things we've said. That is not actually the case. Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, recently explained
to USA Today
that Facebook wrangles "all sorts of circumstantial evidence" for targeted ads that make it appear as though it had been listening. Court likened it to digital "stalking," with highly sophisticated algorithms.
Nevertheless, tech firms have not always been careful with our data. Just a few months ago, it was reported that Facebook had uploaded contact list
email addresses without consent. And a month before that, KrebsonSecurity said it discovered Facebook had stored up to 600 million user passwords
in plain text.
The list of privacy blunders by the tech industry at large (Facebook and others) is long, and growing. It is easy to see why some people may prefer to take the same stance as Wozniak.