The Facebook Scandal and Your Personal Information

The Facebook Scandal and Your Personal Information

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard something about the Facebook scandal as it dominated international news for several weeks. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the focus of a congressional hearing about how personal information of Facebook users was shared with a third party. But how exactly does this news affect you as a Facebook user?

What Happened?

Facebook allows third-party applications and websites to operate on their platform. However, to gain access to user information, they must first ask permission from the user. One of these applications, titled “This is Your Digital Life,” captured data from Facebook users in the form of a personality quiz.

However, this application also captured data from Facebook friends of users who opted to take the quiz. That meant that data from users who didn’t even take the quiz had their data collected, without any permissions granted. Furthermore, the data collected from this application was then shared with Cambridge Analytica and used to influence the election. Whew, that’s lot to digest. So, what happens now?

How Do You Know if You Were Affected?

Facebook has a tool that allows you to check if your information was shared with Cambridge Analytica. Responses will vary, but it’s not just a question of whether or not you partook in the quiz. For example, mine tells me that I didn’t log into “This is Your Digital Life” but a Facebook friend of mine did. As a result, my information (my public profile, page likes, birthday, and current city, according to Facebook) was shared with the political data firm. Thanks, random Facebook friend.

What Can You Do About It?

It can feel like you have little power in this situation, especially if your data was shared simply because a friend logged in to the offending app instead of you. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything to remove your data from Cambridge Analytica. They already have it, and they’ve already used it. But you can take precautions with your personal information moving forward.

Fortunately, it’s in Facebook’s best interest to crack down on security, so there may be less to worry about moving forward. But that isn’t to say there isn’t any risk at all. Suggestions for protecting your privacy include staying away from third-party apps and not giving permission to other apps to access your account. You could also unfriend any Facebook friends you see frequently using those types of apps, which usually come in the form of personality tests.

Or as a last resort for those who are truly concerned, you can always delete your Facebook account altogether, which many users have already done. While it won’t get rid of the data Cambridge Analytica or other companies may have already collected, it will certainly protect you from any future breaches on the social media platform.

Hurrdat is a Lincoln, Nebraska, digital marketing agency specializing in social media and video campaigns. The company was founded in 2010 and merged with B² Interactive of Omaha, Nebraska, in 2014.

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