Facebook recently announced that political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica obtained info from up to 87 million accounts without their users’ consent.
Think about everything you post on Facebook.
Locations, interests, photos, status updates...and more.
Now imagine if all that data were compromised.
Facebook apps and third-party services can normally request access to an account’s information in order to add functionality or advertise products.
But experts allege that Cambrige Analytica violated FB’s terms of service by using the data to direct political campaigns and influence voters.
These allegations have caused concern about data security, social media privacy and Facebook’s data protection practices.
In order to keep your personal information safe, it’s important to be aware of how it can be exposed and what steps you can take to ensure you control access to your data.
Timeline of Events
In 2014, University of Cambridge researcher Aleksandr Kogan created a Facebook personality quiz that gave him data on approximately 270,000 Facebook users.
At the time, Facebook’s terms of service also allowed Kogan to access data on these users’ friends - a total of 87 million accounts.
Although Kogan told users that their information would only be used for research, he later worked with Cambridge Analytica to market the data to political groups.
While many experts speculate that Cambridge Analytica’s clients used this data to direct political messages and influence voters, investigators have yet to confirm if or how the data was used.
Facebook learned that Cambridge Analytica possessed the data in 2015 and requested that all copies be deleted. However, in March 2018, a number of news sources reported that the consulting firm kept and continued to use at least a portion of the data for its business practices.
As a result, Facebook’s data protection practices are now under investigation by regulators.
Protect Your Data
Many social media users assume their personal information is safe, but this scandal has shown the importance of reevaluating online security.
Hackers can use data posted on social media for identity fraud, social engineering schemes and more.
Here’s some tips to help you stay safe on social:
- Check FB’s webpage about the exposed data to see if your personal information has been obtained
- Go through all privacy settings on each of your social media accounts to see if the security features or terms of service have changed
- Always assume that info you post online can be shared with the public
- Enable 2-factor authentication on all devices and services that offer it
- Create strong passwords and update them regularly
As technology advances, it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re safe online. Don’t risk it!
This article was adapted from Zywave. This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.