The phone is the latest development to highlight the many privacy concerns activists and consumers have raised about Facebook, today the leading social network in the world with more than 1 billion users. Critics warn about the covert ways they say the company solicits personal information – ranging from mobile phone numbers and addresses to personal tastes based on what activities users have chosen to “like” – and then makes it available to advertisers.
With consumers using Facebook to shape their online identity – expressing their preference for a neighborhood restaurant, a certain type of music, their favorite clothing retailer, or how often they read books or see movies – the social media platform becomes a greater resource for advertisers that seek to finely hone their messages.
Despite a recent class action settlement and warnings from the Federal Trade Commission, the company remains committed to exploiting its massive user databank, they say, and the new phone and other emerging tech gadgets will significantly enhance their capacity to do so. For example, with Google Glass, a headset that allows users to walk around interacting online via voice command, companies will be able to mine location data more deeply than they had in the past.