Facing intense criticism, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, repeatedly offering apologies and attempting to explain the social network’s business model.
The privacy debate raging in policy and corporate circles can feel distant in rural western North Carolina, but Forest City plays an unusual role: It is home to a massive Facebook data center, one of just four such digital attics in the United States.
Beyond that are a few houses and rolling pastures for cows and horses.
Facebook choose Forest City in 2010 because the town sits near the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an isothermal belt that provides unusually consistent weather.
It is known for having awesome amusement parks, tons of historically rich monuments and sites, beautiful city parks, and great modern cities like Philadelphia that are filled with bars, clubs and wild nightlife.“It does get a little weird, though, when my data is being shared with various groups in any way they want to use it,” Roberts said, “and that can be in ways that doesn’t line up with my political and religious beliefs.” A customer overheard Roberts and, after inquiring about a product to clean his bicycle drivetrain, said Facebook’s recent privacy problems led him to finally delete his account. Roberts tried searching for him on Facebook on the store’s computer. This is a part of a larger worry for Facebook, which recently noted that at the end of 2017 it suffered “a slight decline” in the number of daily active users in the United States and Canada after years of growth. “That’s what pushed me over the edge,” Scott Griffith said. He had to research the process, and it took two weeks to complete. At the Second Chances thrift shop, which benefits Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, Henderson was clicking through file after file in her Facebook data archive, teasing out bits of what she had assumed was information lost to history. A list of everyone who had “poked” her on Facebook and how many times. And residents such as Henderson are just starting to dig in — both creeped out by what they find and resigned to an online world where the loss of privacy is taken for granted.“It surprises me that they have all this stuff,” Henderson said, scrolling through her personal Facebook archive. It’s in the middle of a construction boom, part of a rapid expansion that includes plans to beef up existing Facebook data centers and build five new ones across the country.The Facebook user data obtained by Cambridge Analytica and others has probably spread far out of reach, experts say, to other databases and the dark Web.But it is also here — in bytes stored on tens of thousands of computer servers tucked inside three well-guarded and ever-expanding buildings — that the amorphous discussion about privacy is made concrete.After she researches teen fiction on her work computer, her Kindle at home sometimes recommends that she reads vampire romance novels.Once, library staff were talking about something in the office, and Edwards later saw ads for it on Facebook, as though the computer were eavesdropping.The Facebook property is worth about 0 million, according to municipal records, accounting for nearly half of the entire town’s value.But only about 250 people work there, in a town with a population of 7,400. Kenneth Odom often finds himself curious about the data center, which he passes on his way to work each day.