retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, an Amazon executive took Facebook to task for what he deemed to be inadequate privacy protections for users.

“If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product,” Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer, said to Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications.

Vogels, the story says, asked "how Facebook could claim to protect users if many weren’t aware of how their data is being used."

Clegg conceded that Facebook could do more in terms of transparency, but argued, "Unlike you, I believe an advertising business model where the user doesn’t have to pay is a very ingenious and good thing."

Bloomberg notes that both companies have been criticized on privacy grounds. Amazon has been scrutinized for ways in which its Alexa-driven systems allow Amazon employees to collect and listen to conversations between users. And Facebook "has come under fire for giving third-parties access to user data, particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Last year, it agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission to settle an investigation stemming from that controversy, where an outside researcher collected personal data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their consent, and then sold that data to a consultancy working with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign."
KC's View:
The problem I have with Clegg's response is that he's flat wrong. A model in which the user doesn’t have to pay indeed would be a very ingenious and good thing, but that's not what Facebook is. We all pay, one way or the other, in the service of a company that, in my humble opinion, ought to be treated as a media property, not as a platform that is excluded from the rules of veracity.
Sure, Amazon has its own privacy issues. But I'm a lot more concerned at the moment about Mark Zuckerberg … who, it ends up, Aaron Sorkin got absolutely right in The Social Network.