Free Minds & Free Markets

Facebook’s Use of Data May Annoy You, But IRS Handling of Your Sensitive Information Is Truly Chilling: New at Reason

When it comes to mishandling the details of your life, social media has nothing on the tax man.

Yoko Aziz/agefotostock/NewscomYoko Aziz/agefotostock/Newscom

As we argue over the propriety of Facebook hoovering up personal (but not especially sensitive) information that users voluntarily gave to the social media company, it's a good time to remember that many of us are right now surrendering delicate details of our life to an even less trustworthy entity—the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—and we have no choice.

Facebook's info-siphoning struck many people as creepy as hell, writes J.D. Tuccille, but it was based on freely surrendered data through a service that nobody was compelled to use. Anybody uncomfortable with Facebook's policies can just close their account (or creatively populate it with bogus info). By contrast, you can't just walk away from IRS demands for the details of your finances, your business, your property, and your family. And the IRS has a pretty impressive history of not just putting this coercively extracted information to questionable uses, but also of storing it carelessly and leaking data through every possible conduit.

Photo Credit: Yoko Aziz/agefotostock/Newscom


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