Facebook, privacy and you

Is the age of privacy over? Lord (Richard) Allan from Facebook and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, author of Delete, go head to head on privacy and the right to be forgotten in the internet era.

In February 2012, Facebook filed for an initial public offering that valued the social media network at between $75 billion and $100 billion. The lion’s share of the company’s value derives from the data it holds on its 845 million users – a population more than 2.5 times that of the USA. If it were a country, writes former CNN journalist Rebecca MacKinnon, it would be the third largest after India and China. “Call it Facebookistan,” writes MacKinnon in her book Consent of the Networked.

To realise its valuation, experts say that Facebook will have to find ever new methods of cashing in on its members’ data. One such way is the creation of a single Facebook identity that follows you around the internet, gathering information with every click. However, a “right to be forgotten” currently being debated in Europe may change the way Facebook and companies such as Google harvest and retain users’ data.

Read our blog below to find out what Lord (Richard) Allan, Facebook’s director of policy in Europe, and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, author of Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, have to say on these issues and more.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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