Facebook has started testing a new feature called Accounts Center in the settings of its social networking platforms, including, Instagram, Messenger and its namesake. The company stresses that this tool is designed to give consumers more control and make things easier for them but underneath all the neat sync features that allow users to cross-post or use one account to log into the other, the social media giant also intends to serve better and more personalised ads, across their platforms.
The good news is that using the Account Center is currently optional and since it’s still being tested, not all of the billion-plus active users will get to check it out.
However, the bells and whistles that come alongwith the Accounts Center update for Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, might just be enough to entice users into thinking about the good it brings, and as usual, ignoring the ugly, which actually, doesn’t include anything that hasn’t been talked about already.
The data Facebook collects doesn’t stop at product placements
Facebook will collect and sync data across its platforms and then target you even more accurately for ads. Yes, of course, Facebook wants to “improve” its services and “keep them safe” using the mined user data and all that jazz — we all know they’ve done a grand job — but they want your data to sell more ads and give their advertisers more points to target people.
Advertisement isn’t evil, however, the way social network platforms allow bad actors to amplify propaganda isn’t exactly something that Facebook is concerned about, rather they would want you to provide additional data points to make it easier for their advertisers to get a hold of your attention.
If you’re thinking, how does it matter? It’s only ads that Facebook shows; how’s that harmful? Well, it wouldn’t really be if it were just commercial enterprises selling you products that you would consume.
Advertisement on Facebook, similar to the real world, not only carry messages in attractive packaging by corporate interests trying to sell a product but also by political parties as well as lobbyists to sell propaganda-based opinions,
misinformation, and anything else that serves their interests.
To sum it up, the latest tool that is aimed to help users organise and manage their profiles on the forefront across Instagram, Messenger and Facebook, will also help the company target the users more accurately for ads across its platforms.
Facebook Pay will come to Accounts Center later this year
Facebook also said in their announcement on Tuesday that in addition to single sign-on and cross-posting, which allows users to share the same story or post at the same time on both Instagram and Facebook, Facebook Pay will also be added to the Accounts Center later this year.
Currently, Facebook users in USA can save their payment information in Facebook Pay and make purchases or donations on Instagram and FB.
Facebook Pay, in itself, is a data mining machine. Don’t get me wrong. It does assist in digital payments but that doesn’t discount the fact that it’s another tool for the tech giant to mine more data to help in targeting users for ads.
When users make a payment via Facebook Pay, the company will collect information “such as the payment method, transaction date, billing, shipping and contact details.” Moreover, Facebook Pay data will also be used to deliver relevant ads.Is Facebook Pay really just a convenient trade-off for more access to your data? | Candid.Technology
Couple the power of Accounts Center and Facebook Pay, and you’ll see that the company is becoming a behemoth of a data mining organisation, using the power of social networking.
As has been popularly stated in the docu-drama on Netflix, The Social Dilemma, for Facebook and its advertisers, you, the user is the product. It’s your eyeballs that Facebook tries to sell to these bidders and as has been well documented across the news as well as popular media, Facebook is in the business of making money, immaterial of the socio-political or cultural impact their products have on the society and the world as a whole.
Prayank heads the Editorial at Candid.Technology. When not writing, he loves taking trips on his bikes or chugging beers as Manchester United battle rivals.
Contact Prayank via email: [email protected]