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Facebook in the elections

In order for technology to make our lives easier, we have renounced to our privacy and allowed third parties to gather information about us
Facebook in the elections
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
22/03/2018
08:46
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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How many people take the time to read carefully – or at least skim over – the “terms and conditions” you need to agree with whenever you install a new app on your cell phone or when you join a social network to use it?

If you did, then you'd known, for instance, that the most popular music streaming service in Mexico states that users renounce their right to file a collective lawsuit against the company.

If we were to read them, we would understand that the social network with the most number of users in the world and in our country is, virtually, a spy that follows us everywhere and gathers data from “computers, phones, and other devices” to deliver it to third parties.

In order for technology to make our lives easier in several aspects, current society has renounced to privacy and therefore allows large international consortiums to have access to their likes and dislikes.

Yet when this information is used for political purposes, to influence an opinion to help someone reach a position of power, it is worth questioning if this action is morally acceptable.

Last weekend it was known that the company Cambridge Analytica is under investigation for having taken – via Facebook – the data of 50 million U.S. citizens to create specific content aimed towards them and support Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential elections. The company is also suspected of having similarly influenced the citizens of the United Kingdom in the referendum regarding the exit of the UK from the European Union (“Brexit”), and other elections.

The situation has shaken the social network giant who, in the beginning, claimed to have been deceived by Cambridge Analytica until yesterday, it's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, admitted to having "made some mistakes".

This is the same social network with which Mexico's National Electoral Institute (INE) in early February signed a cooperation agreement for the 2018 General Election. An agreement which wasn't made public but whose full terms and conditions were disclosed to the general public by EL UNIVERSAL. Among the key items was that the agreement had no section regarding the fight of “fake news” – which was vital for the INE. Moreover, the agreement includes more legally binding obligations for the INE than Facebook.

The shadow of doubt looms larger on how large technological corporations are using the data of their users. This information has been used in several countries to influence the opinion, behaviors, and actions of citizens. In Mexico it would be wise – and we're on time – to become familiar with each and every one of the “terms and conditions” of the INE's agreement with Facebook...so there are no surprises down the road.

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