Facebook, the company that allowed Russia to obtain data on some 87 million users in order to target and manipulate voters for the 2016 election has hatched a new scheme. You’re gonna love this one, folks! Facebook is planning to expand its popular ‘Messenger’ program so that you can access your bank through Messenger and do such things as check your account balance, transfer money, pay bills, etc.
Let it sink in for just a minute …
The headline in the Wall Street Journal summed it up best:
Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We’ll Give You Our Users
You’ll remember that on July 26th, Facebook stock plummeted, losing approximately 20% of its value and costing the company $120 billion. Well, seems they needed to come up with something new and innovative to get things rolling again, so here we are. They are negotiating with a number of large financial institutions, including JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp.
The social media network wants access to card transactions and checking account balances along with information about where its users shop. And what would the banks receive in return? Access to Facebook user’s information. Wow … I don’t know about you, but I find that concept doubly frightening! I use Facebook and use Messenger frequently … multiple times a day. If this deal goes through, I will no longer use either!
Considering that Facebook is still slogging through numerous lawsuits and trying to salvage their reputation as a result of the Cambridge Analytica, facing lawsuits in both the U.S. and UK, and is being investigated by a number of agencies, one might think they would ‘lay low’ and not stir further controversy, yes? Remember the piece I wrote back in April, titled Facebook RX, about their plans to link your medical records, such as age, prescriptions and number of hospital visits, to your Facebook user data? That plan was shelved, for the same reasons I find this new one objectionable: Facebook has proven more than once that they cannot guarantee the privacy of our data.
The Cambridge Analytica breach was not the first time that Facebook was in trouble over data misuse. In 2011, Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it didn’t keep its privacy promise to users by allowing private information to be made public without warning. As a result, Facebook had to agree to undergo an independent privacy evaluation every other year for the next 20 years.
The new plan would give Facebook data such as where you shop, what you spend your money on, etc. While Facebook claims they have no intention of using this information for targeted advertising or anything nefarious … then why would they even want the data?
We are already being tracked, as I wrote in my post, Big Brother IS Watching, last August. Our cell phones, if GPS is turned on, report our every movement. Take a minute to go back and read that post again, if you will. Since I wrote that piece, checked to see exactly how much Google knew about my activities, I have disabled my GPS and only turn it on when I travel into unfamiliar territory.
Technological advances have value, but only if used for the right purposes and confined to the right people. In this day and age, particularly after the Cambridge Analytica breach, I find that my friend Herb’s motto: Trust No One, is quite apt. At the very least, I do not trust Facebook. While the intent may not be evil, I can imagine far too many scenarios where our personal and financial information gets into the wrong hands and we suffer the consequences.
My best advice to you is share nothing with Facebook. I do not even have a profile on Facebook, beyond very basic information, and they absolutely will not be getting my banking information, nor credit card information! And my bank will not be learning my Facebook password, either!
Facebook is struggling now, and they say their goal is to keep people on Messenger for longer periods of time, as they access their bank accounts there, rather than by phone or bank app. They created their own situation, made their own bed, so to speak, and they will need to find ways to earn the confidence and trust of their users again. Asking for our bank information and then asking our bank for our financial information is not the way to regain our trust!
Be ever vigilant, folks. Guard your personal and financial information as if your life depended on it, for perhaps it does. Bear in mind that your bank, Facebook, Twitter and even WordPress are not your friends, but are businesses, corporations, seeking to make money and in whatever way they can.