At a recent showing, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new Android app that will basically act as a skin. The Android home screen is replaced with a graphic version of the Facebook news feed and the home page will have additional Facebook features for posting to the site and communicating with friends. The app is a way for people that use Facebook often to be able to access the social network’s services easily, most likely with a ton of ads being thrown at you. Below is a video of Mark Zuckerberg going through the features and perks of the app while failing to mention how this app will jeopardize your privacy.
Facebook has already raised controversy over the collection of personal data and browsing habits, but this app will bring this invasion of privacy to a whole new level. Smartphones have built in GPS systems, and phones with Facebook Home will track where you go and what businesses you visit to help collect data on you. An article speaking on the new app said that “Facebook Home pulls SMS text messages into the mix. Who you talk to, when you talk to them and, in the case of text messages, what you talk about are possibly fertile grounds for data collection.” People now are willing to share some personal information with Facebook to be able to use the service, but with Facebook Home running on your phone, it will make it easier for the company to collect data about your personal life without you even knowing. The difference is that while people are using Facebook they are actively sharing information such as uploading a picture, but with this new app people will be passively sharing information unknowingly.
This new level of data collection scares me and makes me wonder when enough is enough. It makes me think of the concept brought up in class about the double edged sword of technology and whether or not the positives outweigh the negatives. I believe that this app crosses the line and will blur the line between private and public life even more than it already is. In a world where private information is becoming more and more public, people must decide how much they are willing to put up with in regards to privacy. The app is optional of course, but the problem is that many people are uneducated about the fact that Facebook will have access to a lot of their personal information. I believe that Facebook should make it known to the public just what data they will be able to collect on a person through Home.
Ignoring the privacy issues and looking at this app and the idea of a Facebook phone through a business perspective, one can only wonder if these are smart ideas for the company. The issue we brought up in this class was of core competency. Should Facebook be focusing on this app and a phone when it is not its core competency, and will it be able to compete with the big players already in this market? I think that they are wasting their time with these endeavours and should focus on their core competency, because these side projects will most likely not add substantial revenue or make a dent in the phone industry.
Read more about the Facebook Home her: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/05/tech/social-media/facebook-home-privacy/index.html