2018 is already turning out to be a big nightmare for Facebook, and there are still 5 months left. The social media giant has already been in deep trouble after revelations emerged of how user data was being misused by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. Recently, Facebook valuation crashed by $120 billion following a dire profits briefing concerning declining user growth and various new policy restrictions.
After all this, a new report by the Wall Street Journal has emerged which tells indicates that Facebook has allegedly approached banks to get detailed financial information about its users to boost user engagement. This seems a little too brazen from Facebook, considering all the scandals it has been embroiled in over the past few months.
Although we would most certainly not want Facebook anywhere near our financial records, it would seem that the company is trying to set the record straight. Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana said in an interview with TechCrunch that “it’s not asking for credit card transaction data from banks and it’s not interested in building a dedicated banking feature where you could interact with your accounts.”
It would seem that Facebook’s only interest in banking records is so that it can improve chatbot interaction on its Messenger app. This is not news as the report states that Facebook has already partnered with PayPal in over 40 countries to let users receive their payment receipts using Messenger.
“The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone – and it’s completely opt-in. We’re not using this information beyond enabling these types of experiences – not for advertising or anything else. A critical part of these partnerships is keeping people’s information safe and secure,” said Diana to TechCrunch. She also mentions that Facebook has been approached by several banks before for a potential partnership.
But how are we to trust Facebook with any kind of bank details when it has failed to keep the private data of 87 million people from being misused? The answer is still in the wind. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has blown open the lid on how big tech firms with huge swaths of user data are being negligent in their duty of data protection.
In any case, it would seem that banks are not quite open to the idea of Facebook acquiring financial details of its users either. NY Daily News reported that a spokesperson for Wells Fargo, an American multinational financial services company, said that “Maintaining the privacy of customer data is of paramount importance to Wells Fargo. We are not actively engaged in data-sharing conversations with Facebook.”
It remains to be seen if Facebook is still going to move forward with obtaining bank records with full awareness of a severe backlash if it follows through.