Latest Post

Residence Rundown The Apple of their heroes’ eyes: An album review Reforest Fest: A fezzie for the trees The Fallen Boer

Meta’s latest controversy to add to the collection

Graphic: Emma-Jane Metcalf

With over 40 million downloads in the first 24 hours Threads has quickly launched itself as the latest competitor to the trolling game. Twitter’s trials of encouraging toxic culture, inciting hate speech and allowing anonymity to bigots are well known, but with the masses flocking to the exciting rebuttal that is Meta, Zuckerberg’s company has now, once again, proven itself incapable of maintaining ethical practices surrounding the personal data of its users. 

Tactical surveillance advertising is at the top of Meta’s to-do list with Threads, sharpening its claws, not only for access to your GPS location or device gallery and camera, but to your race, sexuality, health conditions, work experience and even pregnancy status as well. For what, you might ask? That is the main issue, as Meta’s justification for this collection seems to be nothing more than a “why not?”. 

“I suppose you’ve got to make a distinction between individual dangers and threats, and kind of more social or collective dangers… I don’t particularly feel threatened as an individual by Facebook. But as a sociologist who’s rather interested in things like democracy and societies, at a social level, I’m really worried about Facebook’, says Dr Llloyd Hill, sociology lecturer at Stellenbosch University in discussion with Die Matie about Meta’s track record. 

Users of Meta’s new interface however, are encouraged to fret not, with Threads taking all necessary information via your pre-existing Instagram account through the simple press of a button. Whilst the European Union has already made their stance known on the “hype” surrounding the use of Threads, it seems as though despite the prevalence of the POPI (Protection of Private Information) Act, the South African government has yet to seemingly align itself with one of the 3 global models in privacy policy.

“We have three, I would say… major regimes or models for how this should be done,” explains Dr Hill. 

Dr Hill further says, “By far the most interventionist is the European Union, and I think a lot of what they’re doing is useful. Probably they’re the best model to follow, whereas the other two major kinds of regimes for policy settings are the United States and China.”

 “I would hope that we could move more towards a kind of a European Union style situation, but my fear is we are kind of more trapped between… an East-West type dynamic in South Africa”, comments Dr Hill. 

Nevertheless, this “hype” seems to have clouded over the need to be vigilant of Meta’s predatory practices. But is the excitement around Zuckerberg’s ongoing feud with Elon Musk the real drive for downloading Threads, or is the easy access via Instagram preying on the naive?

When discussing the topic with Stellenbosch University students online, 1st year BA Humanities and Socio-Informatics student, Jenna Murrell, called Threads a “knock off of Twitter, [with] basically no difference.” 

She notes concerns about the collection of personal data, stating, “If I’d known the T&Cs, I never would’ve done it.”

With excitement and user engagement dropping nearly as quickly as it started, the larger question of the collection of sensitive data over multiple platforms begs to be explored.

When approached about the privacy concerns 3rd year Mathematical Sciences student, Richard Burger, stated that, “In my opinion, I believe that most people don’t really have an idea of just how much of their personal data has already been harvested, and so shouldn’t be too worried about Threads.” 

He further says, “Thread’s would just be an extra spoonful of the mountain of info they know about you already.”

Despite this, when asked about what countries could do to better protect the information of their people, Burger goes on to clarify that he believes “ a concerted effort should be made by government to employ specialists to help them design regulations and laws to control the companies that are harvesting our “private” data.”

Whilst users have their part to play in accepting privacy policies, Threads is an example of how a quick laugh and mindless scrolling can be acquired at the expense of psychological manipulation and surface level commitment to protecting privacy. 

Translate »
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial