Facebook and Google probably know more than you think

Facebook and Google probably know more than you think
Photo: Shock, Bigstock

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is set to launch an investigation into Facebook amid privacy concerns.

The chairman of the organisation, Rod Sims, says that he believes online giants like Google and Facebook are likely to have much more private information about its users than people may suspect.

The Federal Government has informed the ACCC to launch an investigation into the privacy of users in what is said to be the widest and most diverse inquiry into online privacy in the world. Mr Sims also said that if he was to reveal how much private information the tech giants have, there could be widespread concern.

The commission is looking into a number of things in the specified inquiry;

  • Whether tech giants such as Facebook, Google and others have abused their market power
  • The effect of the choice and quality of news shown on users feeds
  • What information they gain about users and whether or not this is done in a transparent fashion

Mr Sims says that whilst he doesn’t currently have a Facebook account he plans on making one and will be asking users about their perceived level of privacy and what they believe online platforms know about them. This will be used to compare against the actual knowledge levels of these corporations.

He said that whilst people say they “know what’s going on and don’t care” he believes that when people find out exactly what these companies know about them “people will be concerned. Most people are fairly private.”

Mr Sims believes that one of the issues may be that many people do not realise that platforms like Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp are all owned by Facebook.

He said that these big tech companies have been “very good at buying up” businesses that have the potential to be their rivals.

This is one of the major issues and MR Sims said that competition regulators needed to be much more aware of any further potential acquisitions of smaller companies and start-ups.

Sims said that the ACCC would look at other major companies however wouldn’t name which ones specifically.

The ACCC also claims that they have been talking to many other major competition regulation organisations around the world and that they had been providing input into the inquiry.

The combined value on the sharemarket of Google and Facebook is approximately $1.6 trillion.

On Monday, the ACCC will publish an “issues paper” as part of the inquiry.