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What’s the best way to punish Facebook? Fake your data

punish Facebook
False pretenses: fake your Facebook profile

There’s been endless talk of how to punish Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Barely any of it would constitute a punishment at all.

The Information Commissioner, still banging politely at Facebook’s door and asking if they’d mind awfully if she came in, is about as fearsome as a newborn puppy. The maximum fine she can impose is £500,000 – about ten minutes’ worth of takings for a company the size of Facebook. Zuckerberg would pay the fine from petty cash.

MPs are threatening to drag Zuckerberg to Parliament to explain himself. But they have no jurisdiction – and a couple of hours’ of questioning from a technically inept bunch of politicians is barely even a rap on the knuckles.

The best way to punish Facebook is to ruin its most valuable commodity: your data.

Sure, you can go the whole hog and delete your Facebook account, but you know deep down that you still want to gawp at your friends’ holiday photos, watch those viral videos and spread inflammatory gossip via Facebook Messenger. Admit it.

But you can still have all of that and screw Facebook by faking the profile information that it and its data-guzzling partners graze on.

Consequently, after a few judicious edits of my Facebook profile, I’m now a 67-year-old Portuguese speaking, Seventh Day Adventist who works for Sainsbury’s and is a massive supporter of the African National Congress. My Facebook friends will know this is complete cock, but the data-harvesting apps won’t.

It’s dead easy to edit your profile data. Go to the website, click on the photo of you in the top-left corner, click the About tab and work your way through the different categories.

If everyone filled their Facebook profile with such spurious nonsense, all that data would be about as a valuable as a Bobby Davro DVD. And funnier.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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