Discuss Facebook (including Instagram) and Twitter basic business models regarding the use of personal data


  1. Why was Mark Zuckerberg facing mutiny from his own employees, and outside groups, and pressure to tighten privacy and use of data? Discuss points pro or con about his “positions.” What was “Cambridge Analytica” and how was it related to Facebook and politics?

Mark Zuckerberg was facing mutiny from his employees and outside groups because of his lack of action to remove content from the President that potentially incited violence. The internal outrage among Facebook employees began during the nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd (Murdock, 2020). After the President created a post stating, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Zuckerberg did not elect to remove the post from the website. According to Murdock (2020), employees who disagreed with him stated leaving the post up would set a precedent for the types of posts that were allowed on Facebook. Representatives of outside groups such as The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Color of Change were on the sides of the revolting employees, stating their disagreement with Zuckerberg allowing the posts to remain.

Zuckerberg cited “freedom of expression” in his reasoning for allowing the posts to remain on the website (Murdock, 2020). A “pro” of this is setting the precedent that people should be allowed to express their views online. A “con” of this is the potential for people to misuse this “freedom” to spread words of violence or intimidation.

Zuckerberg also has continually faced pressure to tighten privacy and use of data. According to TechRepublic Staff & Patterson (2020), for approximately a decade, organizations harvested data about Facebook users in order to target their advertising. This was able to be accomplished due to a lack of privacy controls and restrictions from Facebook and a number of “bugs” that allowed leaks of user data.

One of the most notorious offenders in this privacy scandal was Cambridge Analytica, a strategic marketing company behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the LeaveEU pro-Brexit campaign. Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from Facebook, apps, and quizzes, to target advertisements to users online.

  1. Discuss Facebook (including Instagram) and Twitter basic business models regarding the use of personal data. How do they make their money and stay profitable? Is their strategy part of “big data?” What is an algorithm versus a live human editor, such as one who supervises journalists at a traditional newspaper or magazine?

In the simplest view, Facebook and Twitter make money by allowing companies to buy advertisements on their platforms. This relates to the use of personal data because of “targeted advertising,” or being able to advertise by demographic and interests. I’ve personally explored advertising on Facebook and was surprised by how specific you are able to get with targeting. I’d say this is a part of “big data” because people continuously add to the data collection every time they put something new on their Facebook page. An algorithm is a technological way of sorting through content to determine what is the most relevant to an individual and the likelihood that the person will interact with it (Alessandra Golino, 2021). The collection of data allows an algorithm to be more accurate in driving “clicks” and interactions with ads and content.


  1. What eactly is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and why do think it was necessary to build Web 2.0? See here if you don’t know: https://youtu.be/pBSQaRqDPPg. Twitter started labeling Tweets by Donald Trump on his personal account containing spurious, false, and incendiary content pursuant to its guidelines. The President and allies (note, never asserting the content didn’t contain spurious info) went ballistic…and came up with this: https://apple.news/AtajX0XsMQjCrFcrUgIDf5w (we will consider in Week 2 how this is unenforceable). Nevertheless, even the “friendlier” (to the President) Mark Zuckerberg had to do this to the Trump Re-Election campaign: https://apple.news/Aflbi9Zw4TG2CzsO1XemYoA. Why do some people, politicians mainly, oppose Section 230?

“Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do” (EFF.com, n.d.). Section 230 protects individuals who post third-party content on websites or social media and gives the user or creator of the platform to remove and suspend posts that they deem offensive. This is troublesome because of the 1st amendment of our constitution.

  1. Briefly discuss your feelings about these private companies and how they’ve grown from unfettered platforms pulling like-minded or like-interested people or groups together, to mega-media platforms that need to have editors, consultants, data personnel, etc. Relate your response to Section 230, if you think it aids your position. Note that, in some nations, these platforms have been known to nurture activities close to genocide, state-sponsored crime, etc.

My opinion is that nothing should be censored as long as it is not a direct threat. I have had about enough of social media that I deleted every platform from my phone. Everyone is so soft these days and easily offended. The individual that gets offended can make their own decision to engage or leave it alone. Users of social media have become little tattle-tales. I think that I am a little bias, because I am someone who always says what I am thinking and direct (if you couldn’t tell from this post) and to see owners ban individuals for “hate” blows my mind when I could logon to twitter or Facebook and easily find hate towards police officers and threats against their lives that are not “deemed” hateful. My opinion is that this is a very one-sided fight. There are many aspects that social media throws in my face that I think is hateful and that is why I know longer participate. My choice was to not engage. I am a grown man and do not need to feed into a pathetic argument online.

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