Before March 2018, not many people knew about London-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, much less their connection with social media giant Facebook. But then, the New York Times ran an article about the former doing business with the latter. In the article, former Cambridge Analytica research director Christopher Wylie had detailed how his previous employer had illegally gathered the personal data of more than 80 million Facebook users via a quiz app developed by a Cambridge University researcher. If you’ve been following the entire Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, you might have been asking how your data on Facebook may be at risk.
1.) You might risk compromising not only your data but those belonging to your friends.
Scrolling through your Facebook news feed can get rather tiring which might be why you’ve decided to answer some online quizzes to mix it up a bit. After all, there’s no harm to be had in taking a few minutes of your time to answer a simple quiz, right?
You couldn’t be more than wrong though. Some online quizzes are in fact a front for researchers to illicitly harvest your data and sell it to consulting firms like Cambridge Analytica. You’re just another statistic to them. They could care less about your personality, the first letter of whoever you’ll end up getting married with, and so on.
2.) Any direct messages that you’ve sent to any of your Facebook friends are also at risk.
Aside from personal data, the quiz app developed by the same Cambridge University researcher also collected direct messages between Facebook users. So if you think that any direct messages you’ve sent to any of your Facebook friends are only between you and them, you might find yourself shocked to know that Facebook and university researchers working alongside consulting firms can snoop into those very same messages. They can then use those messages to put out targeted advertisements, some of which you might have already seen when you logged in again to your Facebook account.
3.) Updating personal information that you’ve put on your Facebook account – though it can pose some problems too.
Some important personal data that Cambridge Analytica had gathered from millions of Facebook users are birthdays and locations. As a result, you may have decided to change the birthday and home address that you’ve put on your Facebook account when you first opened one in an attempt to circumvent any personal data breach that might happen to you. However, you might want to hold on that if you’re currently applying for a job as your potential employers might check your Facebook profile aside from the credentials that you’ve submitted to them. They might not appreciate finding out that your birthday and home address as stated in your Facebook account doesn’t match with the same details as written in any government-issued IDs under your name.
As much as Facebook has transformed the way we interact with people, it has also become the subject of intense scrutiny as of late after it became involved in a personal data breach scandal along with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Although social media naysayers have been raising concerns regarding personal data privacy even before Facebook existed, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal has served as an eye-opener for some users of the social media platform about the far-reaching implications of submitting their personal information online. By recognizing the above-listed risks that the scandal might impose on your data on Facebook, you can take preventive measures that aim to make using social media safer for you.
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