Dialectic: Is deleting Facebook useful?

by Arya Maheshwari and Rose Guan

In our recurring Dialectics, two authors with contrasting viewpoints discuss an issue of prominence in the local or broader community. We hope to use these multiple view stop provoke deeper thought among the student body and help readers explore new perspectives.

Recently, Facebook revealed that it had leaked user data to Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm, without permission. As a result, a movement to delete Facebook as a protest an for personal safety has spawned. But is this useful? Junior Rose Guan and freshman Arya Maheshwari discuss.

Winged Post: If you had a Facebook, and you knew that something like this was happening, would you feel safer deleting it?

Arya: Even though there’s a big uproar and hype about the #DeleteFacebook movement, I’m not sure it’s going to have that big of an effect, because the problem will persist. Even if as individuals we delete Facebook, that’s not doing anything to the systemic problem of data privacy. So I personally would not.

Rose: I feel like deleting Facebook can be useful in that it allows people to take a personal stand against companies using user data, and i think raising awareness is the first step towards actually making progress against this systemic issue of companies using the data that users give them.

Winged Post: What about other apps, so for example, Snapchat, Instagram, Gmail. What about your phone as a whole? If you’re deleting Facebook, do you have to delete these other things? Do you have to stop using your phone?

Arya: I think one reason the Facebook scandal is so well-known is because Facebook is way more ubiquitous and it’s way more important than other things, but other apps are doing this too. I just think that there would have to be something further than deleting one app.

Rose: On the other hand it’s very hard to stop using your phone, especially in today’s very technological world, so i think what’s best is just being aware and understanding that in addition to taking a stand in whatever way you feel is necessary, because as you mentioned, deleting Facebook is temporary, because Facebook also has a lot of utility, in the likes of job searches.

Arya: It’s up to the individual user to measure taking a stand versus the utility of still having the apps on your phone, or coupling taking a stand if you do take a stand with other ways to inform yourself and inform others about data privacy issues as a whole.

Rose: Other people argue, what do you have to hide, and they continue to do whatever they want on it. so i just think that everyone has to decide that for themselves, and this is just a good step in making people realize that this is something that is there.

Winged Post: Do you think that the movement as a whole will help tech companies listen to user concerns about data use?

Arya: If Facebook has not only legislators questioning their CE but also the people who make it a platform in an uproar with this movie, then yeah, I think it would make tech companies listen. Obviously, this movement has become substantial enough for them to pour a lot resources into trying to fix and I don’t think it’s going to be ignored now, and I don’t think people will let it be ignored now, so I think that that is definitely a good thing that’s coming out of this movement.

Rose: When there’s not a substantial enough amount of users for the backlash to be real and material against the company, which I don’t believe there currently is given that there is resistance to the #DeleteFacebook movement, like I don’t think the company will necessary feel as pressured to change its policies when there clearly benefiting.

Arya: I guess I was taking the stance would deleting Facebook be enough, and that’s why I was arguing “No,” but it would have benefits you would just need to go further to perhaps achieve what some people think they might get out of deleting Facebook. I presume some might want to delete Facebook because they think it will solve the problem, but it won’t do that. It will just be a step.

Winged Post: How would you personally defend yourself from data breaches in social media and other places, like the data breach with Equifax?

Arya: I would just try to be more wary of my actions, and I feel like that might also be a possible effect of deleting Facebook, that you as a user will be monitoring your own output in social networks, and like because by deleting such an important channel, you might be able to limit if not completely stifle yoru exposure of personal data.

Rose: I think personal wariness, whether that’s in deleting Facebook or being more careful on what you post on Facebook and what you do with the platform, is definitely an important part of solving the problem on a user-by-user level. like there are search engines for example that don’t track your history, there are browser extensions that block ads that track your activity or targeted ads.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on May 7, 2018.