It's been a very busy couple of months, and I haven't really been able to weigh in on the seemingly daily deluge of privacy scandals swirling around Facebook lately. You'd have to be living under a really, really heavy rock not to have heard about any of this, and you'd have to have rocks inside your head not to wonder why so very little is actually being done.
Why aren't we more mad? Probably because the effects of privacy breaches tend to feel abstract and far away--though you might feel a bit differently when somebody steals your house. Or, just as likely, you might feel that there is nothing you can do to a giant corporation.
The thing is, it's definitely within our power to change the way Facebook operates--all we need to do is to decide we're fed up. In the United States, we actually do have a long and storied history of forcing companies to behave in a socially responsible manner. In 1911, a couple of capitalist penny-pinchers let 146 of their employees die in a horrible fire as a result of their vile indifference to basic human needs. People got mad, and there were repercussions. We also decided at some point that it would be nice if somebody made sure that food was relatively safe to eat before some leech callously makes a profit on it, and we decided that exploiting the labor and lives of children is maybe kind of a bad thing.
These changes, and many others, were all effected when Americans like you and me got sick of letting businesses hurt them for profit. We can do it again.
Facebook is awful, and they just aren't going to do better on their own. It's clear that no amount of bad press will convince them to clean up their act. Massive fines are nothing to them. The only thing that can stop them is regulation--the same remedy to which we have turned time and time again, whenever profit motive has supplanted basic decency.
Get angry. Call your congressperson.
Don't bother calling your senator. The current U.S. Senate wouldn't lift a finger to help you if you were on fire and screaming in the Capital's rotunda.