To all devoted members of the worldwide Facebook family, I want to say how sorry I am that some of your personal information got mined, tracked and re-deployed by Cambridge Analytica (and God knows who else) during the last U.S. election cycle.
Most CEOs would immediately accept full blame for such a scandal, and promise it will never happen again. But I’m not like traditional CEOs. I’m way, way cooler.
I don’t wear pinstriped suits and neckties, or carry a calfskin briefcase. I wear blue jeans and carry a cup of coffee in a flimsy biodegradable cup.
Sometimes it burns the holy p—- out of my fingers, too, but you know what? I don’t mind, because my job is to be authentic.
And my generation of aloof tech billionaires doesn’t believe in shoveling BS at our customers and shareholders. So here’s the hard truth about the Facebook data breach:
We weren’t prepared for it, we really didn’t do much to try to stop it, we covered it up for a couple years and, yeah, something just like it is bound to happen again.
But, folks, let’s be real. All that stolen information that went from Cambridge to the Trump campaign didn’t come from us. It came from you!
And, yes, I’m including Johnny K., from you-know-where, Missouri. Forty-six years old. Five-eleven, a buck eighty five, according to your last driver’s license.
Clearly a hard-working, responsible guy. Solid eight-to-fiver at the local Amazon fulfillment center. Wife and two happy kids who, judging by those Halloween costumes, are seriously into the “Transformer” movies.
Johnny, I know you just purchased an extended warranty to cover the power train on your F-150 — very smart move. Same goes for that new home alarm system with the camera in the doorbell.
And, dude, that video where you dressed your cat up like a burglar and had him “tip-toeing” up to your front door — all of us here in Menlo Park laughed our asses off.
But, Johnny, here’s what happened that put you in the middle of this political data-mining mess.
Remember that zinger you posted when your sister Mary Ellen signed up as a volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign?
How you said you were going to buy her an orange jumpsuit for when she went door-to-door?
Just a joke, obviously. A harmless little dig.
But it was enough for the sneaky braniacs who are good at this kind of stuff to identify you as a potential Trump voter and start swamping you with campaign messages.
Now, I don’t know how you actually voted in the election, Johnny. Could I find out? Probably. OK, sure I could find out.
But do I really care? Nope. On behalf of Facebook, and all social media companies, let me say that we and our advertisers welcome all your posts.
The more detailed and personal, the better.
We’re proud that customers like you feel comfortable enough on our poorly guarded platform to share basically every aspect of your lives — your dreams, desires, disappointments, and especially your strawberry cheesecake recipes.
Because without this avalanche of mundane content, without this naive mass impulse to expose your inner selves online, my company would go broke. So keep the hits coming, everybody.
We love it, your Facebook “friends” love it, even that guy you haven’t seen since 1992 who says you still owe him a hundred bucks for a lid of Jamaican weed — he’s glad you’re out there, too. How else could he track you down?
But, people, don’t blame us when your personal information gets into the wrong hands. Did you seriously think this was a corporate priority?
I do regret that so many millions of Facebook users were caught off-guard by the Russian trolls, fake news sites, political data thieves, blah, blah, blah.
Lots of customers are mad, our stock price is diving, and apparently I might have to fly to Washington and testify. For that I’ll probably need to lose the jeans.
Yet this crisis will pass. To all who are concerned, I authentically hear you. We want your trust back.
So get on your Facebook page right now and check out our upgraded privacy settings, keeping in mind that no such thing as privacy exists anymore.
But the settings, seriously, are way cooler than before. I mean, we totally outdid ourselves.
Now, can somebody please get me another coffee?
Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: The Miami Herald, 3511 N.W. 91 Avenue, Doral, Fla. 33172; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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