The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Residents sound off about Facebook privacy scandal


April 11, 2018

CLOVIS — As Facebook’s founder and CEO testified Tuesday before Congress, residents of eastern New Mexico sounded off with their opinions on the social media giant’s recently publicized failure to protect the personal information of its users.

At the start of the two-day joint hearing before the Senate’s commerce and judiciary committees, Mark Zuckerberg “apologized for his company’s involvement in facilitating fake news and Russian interference in the elections,” wire services reported.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, was among the dozens of representatives to question Zuckerberg during the hearing.

“The Cambridge Analytica incident is a disturbing example of how social media platforms like Facebook can be weaponized by malicious actors — not just to access private data, but to use that data to manipulate public opinion and to interfere in our elections,” Udall said in a news release. “After years of apologies and excuses from Facebook and other internet giants, it’s clear we need to take action to defend our democracy.”

Eric Necker, of Portales, was of a similar opinion regarding Zuckerberg’s recent public apologies.

“Maybe it’s too little, too late. The damage is already done,” he said, responding to a question about the company’s failure to stop Cambridge Analytica from gathering information from 87 million users through a now-banned personality quiz. “I’ve always been careful using (Facebook), anyway. I use it mostly for family stuff. (User data being shared) is kind of scary, in some ways, especially when you Google something and the ad shows up on Facebook.”

A person concerned with the spread of information they input online has a few main options: one is to forgo establishing a profile at all, an approach favored by Portales resident Roberto Chavez. Others keep their online profiles to a minimum.

“I’m a private person. I don’t have too much revealing information on Facebook for that reason,” said Nick Cody, of Clovis. “But people will always find ways to manipulate and use things.”

Windy Martin, of Clovis, acknowledged the same. She said she’s had a profile for years but uses it primarily for keeping up with family. That doesn’t mean privacy is guaranteed, but being aware of as much can still count for something.

“Once you’re on the internet, you’re taking that risk,” she said.

Scott Knauer, who works for a digital marketing company in Portales, said there are some basic privacy controls many users can apply to become a “good citizen of social media."

“I think people share way too much and they really don’t have to, and they don’t know what happens to their data even when they post something innocuous, like a picture of their lunch,” he said. He encouraged users to look into the oft-unexplored security section of their profile. With a few adjustments to those settings, a person can close and lock the door to the metaphorical house that is their account.

“It will make a social media experience more like hanging out with close groups,” he said.

Regarding fake news, Knauer faulted Facebook’s leadership for not doing more to flag or filter articles with misleading or inaccurate content, but said this moment could be “a huge opportunity for teachers” to educate students on how to tell a legitimate source from something less.

The latter options are a more realistic route for many current users, for whom social media is a common and significant vehicle for keeping up with people.

“Yes, I use Facebook and yes I’m concerned about (data breaches). But does it stop me from using it? No,” said Cristy Walsh, of Portales. “I don’t share as many things as I did or do any of those quizzes. I definitely take (information circulated online) with a grain of salt. I do believe there was misrepresentation.”

Texico High School students Kambri Loewen and Jadyn Barnett told The News they had concerns with social media, but noted it was an important form of communication. Though they use other applications like Instagram or Snapchat more often and consider Facebook something of a “last resort,” they expected the stakes were similar across all three.

“Well, they have our information either way. A majority of it is out there,” said Loewen.

Clovis resident Joseph Muraco seemed resigned to the latest circumstances of the digital age.

“My profile is public,” he said. “I put my divorce decree on Facebook. I don’t care.”


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