Facebook got hit hard this year on the subject of social media digital data security. In early spring whistleblowers revealed that personal information from over 80 million Facebook users was sold to Cambridge Analytica.
The political data analysis firm worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and mined that data for political insights. If you’re interested in how the whole sordid story happened, here’s a great primer for you to dig into.
Digital Data Security: What You Need to Know
Ultimately, the news of this breach really opened our eyes to the risks of interacting online with any of the big four: Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In, as well as Google as a whole. In fact, Congress just held hearings with executives from Twitter and Facebook to dig deeper into “…social media disinformation campaigns in relation to the upcoming US midterm elections and the cybersecurity efforts made to detect and prevent them.”
I could write for days about all the digital data security changes being implemented across the fab-four. But for today, let’s focus on Facebook.
With our own Canadian elections looming in 2019, it behooves us all to keep an eye on what’s happening down south. We need to protect ourselves from this same type of data mining and misinformation sharing here at home. Here are some things to consider.
Facebook Digital Data Security Tips
What you see on your Newsfeed is definitely a result of Facebook’s changes. Now, anyone running a Facebook page with high potential reach (think big brands, political leaders) must go through an authorization process. This helps Facebook weed out fake or misleading accounts.
They’re also reducing the sharing of stories rated as false by third-party fact-checkers. This will help people make informed decisions about what to read, trust, and share.
Of course, we recommend that people double and triple check their security and privacy settings regularly. Facebook’s made this simpler with easier to find privacy settings and a “privacy shortcuts” menu.
Managing information used for Facebook ads is also improved. You can determine who sees your data and which apps have access to your personal information, and adjust accordingly. Users can (and should) also turn on additional security measures like two-factor authentication.
Back to politics. Political ads are now easier to spot as they must be labelled “Sponsored – Paid for by”—just as they would on TV.
And finally, Facebook rolled out privacy changes to ensure they comply with the European union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Read more about the GDPR here.
Should We Delete Our Facebook Business Account?
Back in the spring when the story broke, we got that question a lot. And we still stand by the answer we gave then—no. The internet is built on trading personal data for free services with limited protection for consumers. So, if you use the internet, your data is always at risk. It’s how money is made online. It’s why the ads we are shown are relevant to us.
Facebook lit the flame and suffered the damage, and the fire is still burning in other places online. However, as a recent FastCompany.com piece points out, “Facebook is undergoing a massive push to reduce abuse of its platform and its data, trying to stem false news, concealed political ads, abusive microtargeting, and other frauds. And it continues to investigate thousands of apps for data abuses.” If your followers aren’t leaving Facebook and aren’t expressing privacy concerns, don’t stop communicating with them!
For businesses like Playboy and Tesla, and celebrities like Cher, the stand they took was political. If that is right for your business, then sure, delete your account. But those types of ‘stands’ are generally few and far between.
Finding the Digital Middle Ground
Facebook is definitely feeling the pinch from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and their lax digital data security set-up. Teens (also known as tomorrow’s consumers!) are leaving the network in droves. And, in July, the company’s stock saw its biggest one-day drop in history.
No one wants digital free-speech over-policed. But expectations are that these social media giants must find the middle-ground. Spodek & Co. is prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt before we jump ship. We prefer a “wait and watch” approach as they implement changes.
What about you? It’s been a few months now since the digital data security bombshell dropped. What have you experienced? Is your business page still thriving? Or have you shut it down? I would love your thoughts.