Facebook data breach raises privacy concerns


The latest scandal involving Facebook is raising serious privacy concerns. 

Some people are rethinking the use of the social networking site after news broke about a data analytics firm allegedly taking information from 50 million Facebook accounts during the 2016 election. 

Related storyHow to find out who has your personal information on Facebook

Johnesha Harris is one of 2 billion Facebook users who created an account to stay connected with family and friends. But when she’s online, she’s careful about what she shares. 

“I usually post only generic stuff like ‘Good morning’ or ‘I did this today.’ Never really my opinions or ideas,” said Harris.

Everything we like or comment on is a treasure trove of personal data. That information is valuable to research companies. 

“We don’t know what’s being done with our data. We just don’t know,” said Nick Geidner, who teaches data journalism at the University of Tennessee.

He was not surprised by the Facebook breach. 

“There’s not a ton of government regulation out there for how they have to manage data. What’s okay, what’s not okay, and so I think this was bound to happen eventually,” said Geidner. 

An investigation is underway to find out how Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, accessed the information of Facebook users during the 2016 election.

It raises concerns for users like Harris.

“I think they take what we say and use it to their advantage because they want to get personal with you, they want your votes,” said Harris. 

Geidner is hoping more federal regulations will be implemented for companies like Facebook. In the meantime, he says all we can do is take the necessary steps to protect our personal information. That includes reading the fine print about privacy.

“We don’t read them. We blow past them and we click the box,” said Geidner. 

Harris adds, “I think that’s a little more on us to read the privacy acts that we sign and agree to when we’re using social media.”

You want to give some thought before you sign up for a third party app. Many people opt into this kind of access when downloading apps without realizing just how much developers can see.

To change your app settings on Facebook, first go to “Settings.” Then click “Account Settings” and scroll down to “Apps.” Click “Logged in with Facebook,” and delete any apps you don’t want. 

To remove any existing information from the app’s servers, you have to report the app, then contact it directly.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence on Wednesday about the escalating crisis over how Facebook handles people’s private information. The company says it will take a series of steps to protect data and fix the “breach of trust” between the social network and its users.

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