Facebook’s Privacy Issues

As the biggest and most popular social media platform, Facebook has harvested a massive amount of user data, which can be used for advertising and other purposes. There’s an ongoing controversy regarding the possible illicit use of this user data, especially since Facebook started to monetize user profiles in 2007. Facebook’s privacy issues have been in the news quite a bit this year and it doesn’t seem like they are in the clear just yet. As new claims are being made and new analytic data is being released, it looks as though Facebook’s privacy issues weren’t as accidental as they originally stated.


2011 FTC Investigation


Facebook entered into a consent decree following an FTC investigation in 2011. They promised to address concerns about the way user information is shared and tracked. It happened due to an incident in the end of December 2009, when it was believed that user information was publicly shared. In 2013, Facebook admitted that a bug caused personal details of about 6 million accounts to be exposed. When people downloaded their personal Facebook history, they not only obtained their own address book, but also the personal details of other people in their address book, including phone numbers and email addresses. Then, more privacy issues happened in 2015, when Facebook discovered an app developed by Aleksandr Kogan caused huge privacy concerns.


The Guardian and The New York Times published a report in March 2018 that Cambridge Analytica harvested profiles of 87 million Facebook users, which was allegedly targeted by pro-Trump advertising. Shortly after that, the FTC determined that Facebook violated the 2011 settlement terms. The situation became worse when, in April 2018, Facebook announced that “malicious actors” are able to gather the public profiles of most Facebook users by abusing the search function. Each time Facebook is embroiled into a privacy issue scandal, it’s always the same thing. Zuckerberg would deliver an apology and admit the mistake, but there’s a good possibility that it will repeat again in the future.


Don’t Overshare


Due to these situations, Facebook users should consider how much information they actually want to divulge on social media. For example, they may need to use a second email account, which is not related to their work account so if anything happens with that email account, it won’t be as damaging, because it’s expendable. Even if you use Facebook for work-related matters, such as marketing and customer service, you shouldn’t be too rigid. Anything you put on Facebook or any other social media platform should be considered as publicly available which means you should be more careful as to what you post and what you share online.


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