What Teens Think About Facebook’s Privacy Breach

This week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, is testifying before Congress to discuss how the company handles user data. Facebook is in the hot seat in the wake of news that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, collected data from Facebook users to influence the 2016 election.

While many adults (including my mom) were shocked and outraged at Facebook’s breach of privacy, teens I spoke to had a different response. Personally, I was not surprised by Facebook’s mishandling of user data, and I have long assumed that my social media accounts were being mined. Here are some opinions from other teens:

“It doesn’t bother me too much when it’s information like what music I listen to, like things that I’m interested in. But when it’s more personal things like my location or even family things. That’s when it gets weird and uncomfortable. With those hobby-type things, it’s just a marketing tool, there’s not that much at stake. But when it’s your location, family relationships, or medical information, that’s when it’s uncomfortable and a violation of privacy.”
–Nina Roehl, 17

“I feel like I’ve grown up in a world where technology is so all encompassing and ubiquitous that it just doesn’t surprise me that there are social media platforms using people’s personal information as marketable goods. And frankly it doesn’t phase me because I’m so used to it.”
–Sierra Fang-Horvath, 17

“I feel like they didn’t steal it, I kinda gave it to them. I wouldn’t mind if they took it, I just wish they weren’t selling it.”
–Finley Davis, 17

“It’s unsettling. It’d be different if [Facebook] got our permission… I feel at this point we are basically commodities, because we use social networks. It’s almost like an exchange, we use their platform and they take our data. It’s definitely something I didn’t agree to and didn’t have any knowledge of. The more information comes out about this, the more uncomfortable I get. But it’s like, what am I gonna do about it? Stop using social media? I feel cheated and used.”
–Mali Dandridge, 17

“I’m hesitant about what I put on Instagram now.”
–Michelle Ruano Arreola, 18

“I get that [Facebook] has to make money, but they shoulda said like, ‘You can pay 15 dollars and get a lifetime membership or we can take your data and you get ads.’”
–Riley Lockett, 17

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