The Facebook debate
I expected to have an abrupt change of topic at this point, but it turns out not to be so. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have raised a debate of a different kind.
In such a vast malfeasance and betrayal of trust, it feels inadequate to focus on one thing. However, the quality and transparency of AI models is at least a start.
Facebook should be transparent about the data it collects and how its models work. There transparency must also satisfy a public who, currently, are only dimly aware of what’s going on. That’s not going to be easy.
The same public has, after all, cheerfully okayed the most horrifying permissions when connecting to Facebook from Android phones.
Whatever the defense offered by those involved, it’s clear that exploitative behavior is the norm, even if people have never touched Facebook themselves.
An industry that considers it okay to drag in call metadata of third-parties who have never agreed to Facebook’s terms of service can no longer claim “innovation immunity” to regulation. Google, as the enabler (by creating a privacy model that remains overwhelmingly take-it-or-leave-it), is in the same position: there’s no argument left. If it won’t implement strong privacy and transparency—not ‘send around a press release’, actually implement it, Google’s moral authority won’t save it.
Did I mention that Google’s former Australian managing director, now a bank executive, thinks Australia should hand over their Medicare data to startups so they can build apps? She did. You can’t make this up.