The Belgian police force has issued a warning to residents against the use of Reactions on Facebook. There is no immediate danger, but rather the law enforcement agency is making a statement about the dangers of reacting and reminding citizens to protect their privacy.
Facebook introduced six Reactions to complement the Like button back in February. The social media giant said it was to allow people to better express their opinions about a post. Naturally, the feature has taken off as it is easier to click on a button rather than type a reply.
However, it was also made known that the Reactions are used to track user behaviour. The information gathered from reactions is shared with advertisers, providing them with metrics on how people react to certain posts. It is this practice that has the Belgians concerned; as the notice on the official police website notes that it the reactions provide Facebook with information on when users are more receptive to advertising.
“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective,’ the post reads. “By mouse clicks you can let them know what makes you happy.”
Regular users of Facebook should be used to the idea that they are being tracked all the time. While the Belgians have the right idea, the warning falls extremely short of realising just how extensively Facebook tracks its users. Avoiding Reactions will barely curb the amount of data the social network collects through its wide array of website plugins and cookies.
In other words; it doesn’t quite matter whether you react to posts on Facebook or not. Your privacy has already gone out the window the moment you signed up for the social network; and the people who are really concerned about their privacy shouldn’t be anywhere near social networking in the first place.