The Blog Of The Securities Industry Professional Association

Facebook vs. FINRA

Social Media is the fall guy for all the other spy games

On a near weekly basis we are subjected to the endless cries from Congress about the invasion of rights on American citizens by the social media and search engine giants of silicon valley. Millions have recently begun closing their Twitter and Facebook accounts because they feel compromised by this invasion of privacy that our own government has festered upon us for decades. The media and politicians love to tell you how awful it is that your personal information was sold illegally to Nabisco, General Mills and General Motors to target you for advertising while at the same time ignoring the fact they (the government) have been collecting your information and using it to track opposition parties internet searches, whereabouts and transactions. If the hysteria was calmed down, you would realize you are in less danger of buying some Oreos from Nabisco or a Chevy from GM because of targeted advertising than you are of the government tracking each and every deposit you make in the bank and which political party you donated to. Let’s look at some real harsh facts and decide where the bigger problem may be hidden.

FACT: When you VOLUNTARILY ( remember that word) visited Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap chat, You decided on your own accord to give your name, photo, age, birthday, address, contact list, relationship status, location, birthplace, school, occupation, relatives, favorite movies, songs, places you worked and more.

FACT: Almost every person over the age of 21 understands that nothing is free and that your videos and photos and email archiving require a HUGE amount of storage space so your grandmother can see that video of you bungee jumping off a bridge.
Despite the obvious elephant in the room we all sign up and then act surprised that our search tendencies, profiles and more are sold to 3rd parties to target us for advertising. I have been to many a restaurant and Quick Stop that has a card board box and a pencil on a string attached to it that offers “FREE THREE DAY CRUISE TO BAHAMAS”!! all you have to do is fill out all your personal information , including phone, email and address, and you will be eligible to win once you drop it into the rock solid secure CARDBOARD BOX AT A CITGO GAS STATION!!!! If you have ever made this mistake, you will know that a) you are not going to the Bahamas and b) you will receive all day all night cold calls for every single product under the moon and your e-mail inbox will be filled with spam galore! ( on a side note if you ever want to prank a friend, just put their info in and drop it into the box!)

FACT: Members of FINRA have known about this publication of private, non material information for decades and have been subjected through the use of FINRA Broker Check to have their information published publicly without their permission. For instance, if a person was fined $3,000.00 by NASD in 1988 for failing to properly report a trade and left the industry, that mark is still view-able even if he has been out of the industry for 30 years. In addition, any and all liens levied against a registered person, including a credit card from his college days in 1985 are permanently and forever on his public record. This is the sticking point for many in our industry. One set of rules for Facebook and Twitter, but a different set for others. One set of rules for those in the financial industry but not in other industries like Insurance, real estate or a simple car salesman.

CASE AND POINT: Facebook and Google are bad, but Zillow and Trulia are ok and not invading my privacy. I challenge anyone to go to either or and enter their address. Who gave them permission to give a description of your home? Take a picture of not only your home but cars (license plate included, backyard pictures, school info and the inside description on the home? I did a search for this piece and was able to scroll through the neighborhood and even see the black Jaguar my neighbor had in the driveway. I wonder if criminals would like to know this full layout in case they steal the car or break into our houses and know that there is a wooded area and a back entry for easy get away? It doesn’t end there, in addition to the hundreds of web sites that collect our information, there are the banks and retailers that do it as well. Wells Fargo was using your information to open unauthorized additional accounts and recently paid a massive fine for this. A fine? Shouldn’t people go to JAIL for this? When a broker does an unauthorized trade he usually gets thrown out of the industry and his reputation is publicly tarnished forever but if a bank takes your info and opens additional accounts without authorization he just gets a fine?

We believe there is selective outrage over use of information. Facebook and the other giants of social media are providing a service people register for, but as we pointed out, millions have not signed up for other outlets, yet they are immune from scorn and criticism. Likewise, clients of FINRA member firms sign new account forms and invest money but if a broker does a trade without permission he receives the death penalty and a life time of public scorn on his record but a bank can actually take your account information and open multiple accounts, credit cards and other investments and they receive…..a fine.

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August 16th, 2018



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