How Secure is My Data on Facebook? An Overview of the Recent Scandals

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

The recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal has rocked the digital world. Users are coming to the realization: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

For the price of liking cat pictures, we have traded our most intimate and private information. A collective soul-searching is necessary. We have to figure out what it means to be part of the digital economy in the twenty-first century.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal Explained

In 2014, Global Science Research (GSR) used a personality quiz to collect information about Facebook users. The app was called “This is Your Digital Life”. Even though only 270,000 users downloaded the app, GSR was able to collect data from more than 87 million users because Facebook used to allow access to friend networks at the time. No consent was obtained for this data collection.

The collected information was passed to Cambridge Analytica, a London-based company that provides data-driven advertisements. It used the GSR data to target ads for the 2016 US Election.

In 2015, The Guardian reported about the issue and Facebook had taken legal action to get the data deleted. So Facebook was aware of the problem but it didn’t disclose the information to the users.

The information gained public attention when Christopher Wylie came forward as a whistleblower in early 2018. He disclosed how he used GSR data to test 2016 US election campaign slogans. It started speculations about how the data might have influenced the election. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, was summoned to testify in front of Congress about the issue.

The #deletefacebook Campaign

The Cambridge Analytica scandal created a severe backlash against Facebook. The #deletefacebook campaign started to trend. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, joined the campaign and deleted both SpaceX and Tesla pages.

However, general individuals soon realized it wasn’t easy to decouple their Facebook accounts. A large number of third-party apps use Facebook Login for verifications. So account deletion means lost access to apps like Spotify, Airbnb, Patreon, Tinder and more.

Also, Facebook isn’t the only culprit. Today data is a valuable commodity and everyone is collecting it. As posted on the website Metafilter several years ago: “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”.

Facebook Woes Continue with Facial Recognition

In April 2018, Facebook met another data privacy challenge. A San Francisco Federal Judge ruled in favor of users to continue a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit is seeking damages from Facebook for creating facial templates of users without consent. The templates are used for facial recognition.

Hard Lessons About Data Privacy and Security

The Facebook scandals have put a focus on the current problem of data privacy and security. The information highway is part of the global economy. You can’t avoid the digital world. But you have to stay vigilant.

As a digital business, you should use technology with heightened awareness. Understand your rights. Understand the available security features. A lot of applications use automatic opt-ins that can increase your risks. There is no magic bullet to security but awareness can help you keep your business safer.

Are you looking for experts who can help you secure your infrastructure? At Cleartech Group, we have built a reputation for providing premium technical support. Over the years, we have gathered a lot of experience and a strong security team. Contact us today. Our experts are ready to help you.