Sputnik discussed the social media platform's new privacy feature and dating app with Troy Hunt, web security expert and maintainer of the haveibeenpwned.com website, which allows users to see if their accounts have been compromised in previous data breaches.
Sputnik: As an expert on things such as being able to tell if your account has been compromised in previous data breaches how do you take the announcements by Facebook to allow for users to sort of get rid of their cookies or their Facebook specific cookies, do you think that's a significant improvement? And will that be effective in keeping personal data safe?
Troy Hunt: It's certainly a step in the right direction giving people back control over the amount of information that Facebook holds over them and how it's used is a positive thing. It will be interesting as this actually comes into the platform to see how many people actually use it because if we also rely on people to take explicit action we know that a lot of people won't opt into that.
Sputnik: It's interesting that the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg cautioned against using it because it's going to ruin your Facebook experience, and I'm wondering will people use it, they like the fact that Facebook in many ways is very intuitive as far as the things that you see when you go onto Facebook, is that going to be a dealbreaker for people? Are they going to be willing to give up their data as long as they have this wonderful experience where they have handy and faithful Facebook dishing out what they like the most?
Troy Hunt: Well, of course, that intuitive nature of Facebook is that it has so much data about you it is able to put things in front of you that you would be more interested in. So Mark's point on having a somewhat of a —-- 1.46 to some extent that you may well see a lot of things that are less relevant to you, so there's truth to that, and the unfortunate reality is that the way they do that is by having so much information on you and sometimes they know things that you may not even thought you'd be interested in, and they can put them in front of you.
Now in terms of whether people will opt into that, I think the challenge here is when people need to take explicit action to protect their privacy or their security they tend not to do it, there is usually a very low uptake of any sort of activity that requires an explicit opt-in by the user.
Sputnik: There is a media app that allows you to opt into what kind of information you want to see, it's called Flipboard, and they have probably hundreds of different topics that you can decide are of interest or not of interest, why don't they do an opt-in for what they show you?
You can say look I'm not interested in seeing an ad like this, for example, or a post like that, so there is some control over there, but I think a lot of value propositions of Facebook is that you don't consciously opt into things, it just happens in the background.
Sputnik: What do you think from the point of view of sellers, of marketers, is that going to make Facebook less appealing to them?
Sputnik: I guess that's why they give you a dating site, what do you think about the new plans for the dating site? Is this going to be part of what's going to keep the audience happy and make them forget, because dating sites are immensely popular, and I'm surprised that they haven't introduced this earlier, it seems like there should've been a hook-up kind of app for ages?
Troy Hunt: You're right, when you think about it now it makes perfect sense because Facebook has so much information about us, very sort of nuanced, subliminal things that we may not even consciously think about ourselves, and if they're smart enough, the ability for them to match people together will be a lot better than what you would get from the likes of Tinder.
So they have that capability, and the thing that is now freaking people out is — well, that's a lot of very sensitive information that an organization that is now going through this scandal is holding. I think it will probably be enormously popular because it has such a large incumbent audience already on the platform, and they should be able to do it better than anyone else as well.
The views and opinions expressed by the expert do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.