Protecting Your Personal Information Online
In an ever so digital world, social media users are signing over personal information left and right. Like many others, I am on social media as I maintain accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Having that said, I consider myself well-versed in the whelm of social media, yet I have never read a single privacy statement in its entirety.
In the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook allowed the political data firm access to the personal information of more than 50 million users. In turn, Cambridge Analytica used that information to tailor messages and advertisements to specific Facebook users in an attempt to alter their voting behavior. According to Business Insider Senior Research Analyst Cooper Smith, Facebook collects the most data out of any social networking site at a whopping 63 data points. This makes the data that Facebook records increasingly valuable. While this may seem like a complete violation of privacy, it is something that if you have a Facebook account have agreed to. Ethics aside, what Facebook did was legal and so this should be a learning experience for both Facebook and all social media users alike.
Facebook learned the hard way that by allowing private firms to access personal data, users will become wildly outraged. So much so that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned by US Congress and British Parliament to answer pressing questions about the ordeal and Facebook’s collective operation. The state of Massachusetts is even investigating the relationship between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to ensure that no local laws have been violated. The legality in question stems from Facebook failing to inform individual users if their information has been breached. Legislatures in the US and Europe are even looking into altering their laws and regulations concerning keeping personal information confidential as a result of this incident. Needless to say, this scandal has been an eye-opening experience for all social media platforms and hopefully they will adjust their privacy policies accordingly.
As for users, this scandal has brought light to the danger that agreeing to privacy agreements presents. By not reading the fine print, users put whatever data that they submit at risk. So now you are probably wondering, “What information of mine do they have?” so provided is a brief list in layman terms of what personal information and data that you have given away.
You Have Shared…
- Name, Date of Birth, Age, Etc
- Any information or content that you post (photos, text, videos)
- Any post that you have liked, retweeted, shared or endorsed
- Your current and previous locations
- Internet search history
- Interactions within the platform such as comments or direct messages (even if never shared)
The list provided may surprise you, it certainly surprised me when I made these discoveries. The information that users sign over without their knowledge is startling. It is certainly something to take into consideration before you sign-up for another social media platform and especially before posting on an existing one. With that being said, don’t fear social media going forward. Rather, be cognizant of the information that you are sharing and make privacy conscious decisions when utilizing a platform.