Ayman Hariri, son of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and the brother of the current prime minister Saad Hariri has reportedly made stiff comments over Facebook.
Hariri is a prominent investor in the tech domain and the founder of the ad-free social network ‘Vero’ (launched in 2015). As the name suggests ‘Vero’ means ‘truth’ in Latin – Vero claims to protect its users’ privacy by not mining their data.
He said Facebook and similar social media platforms are building addiction into their design by mining users’ data and insights affecting their privacy, mental health, and even national elections.
Speaking at the Arabian Business London Awards, Hariri said while platforms like Facebook are ‘free’, users end up paying with their most valuable assets: time and data.
“When launched in 2015, it was jarring to think that we had any chance of competing with the established platforms. But it turned out they were not our biggest challenge. Our true competition remains the damage they leave in their wake. They have built addiction into their design in order to grab their users’ attention and consume as much of their time as possible, creating habits that are hard to reverse. As they propelled forward, their users’ best interest was sadly left behind”
“You see, although users don’t have to pay to join these platforms, they are giving up something far more valuable: their time, their data and insights into who they are. It is the fuel driving a machine that is swerving out of control. But it’s 2019, and people are waking up to the high price of free.”
– Ayman Hariri
Moreover, this has become really usual for Facebook to come across controversies. The Cambridge Analytics scandal of 2016, a recent one related to Rankwave – a South-Korean company who misused users’ Facebook data.
The recent announcement of Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra and the wallet Calibra is also being followed by a lot of criticism concerning users’ privacy.
Another controversial news that flashed across the web about the new legislation to be introduced by the state of California in 2020 with a motive to regulate the sale of personal data by Facebook, Google and others; has also received venomous criticism.
Turning the clock a year back, the WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton who sold WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014, took on to Twitter in March last year to criticise Facebook.
It is time. #deletefacebook
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) March 20, 2018
In a statement, he told Forbes…
“I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit, I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”
In September 2018, Acton openly talked about why he left working with Facebook in 2017. He was hesitant to adopt Facebook’s model to monetize WhatsApp by infusing ads into the platform. And there were many other proclamations in between which are enough to scandalise Facebook.
Coming back to Hariri, who personally refrains from using WhatsApp, said Vero’s key focus is retaining people’s privacy.
“We’re seeing what addictive design is doing to people’s health, and on the larger scale, how insight-based marketing can go as far as impacting national elections. At Vero, we created a platform that challenges the status quo. By doing so, we are able to treat our users, not advertisers, as our true customers.”
“We’ve always believed that people deserve better, and so we set out to provide them with an alternative, built around the fundamental principle that a person’s privacy is priceless”
– Ayman Hariri
While Vero currently has just five million users compared to Facebook’s 2.8 billion monthly active users, Hariri said it is still early in its journey.
“We are still building. And we’ll never stop learning”
Source: Arabian Business