Facebook recently came under fire when news broke that Cambridge Analytica was able to access the data of more than 80 million Facebook users. This news outraged many and Facebook CEO and Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify in front of Congress about Facebook’s privacy policies. Since this news broke, people have been debating about who is to blame.
Should Facebook take full responsibility for collecting and storing user’s data? Or are we, the users, partially to blame since we provided Facebook with that information?
While many users may be left feeling violated, legally there is nothing they can do. Remember when you first signed up for Facebook and were so excited that you just clicked “Accept” when you got to the Terms of Service? Well that click meant you agreed to what essentially is the price for being on Facebook – the collection of your personal details, purchasing habits, location information and much more. So while many users blame Facebook, the responsibility untimely falls back on them.
We accepted the Terms of Service and are the ones who provided Facebook with our personal information. There may be an assumption that the common person won’t read every single word in that endless Terms of Service document but unfortunately that is not a defense. Facebook’s terms are clearly laid out. It stats, “when you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you.” Perhaps from here on out, people will be more cautious of the information they share on social media and other public platforms.
Even though the responsibility is on the users, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook did experience certain ramifications. Cambridge Analytica, who was able to acquire millions of Facebook user’s data through an app, has denied any wrong doing but this past week the company announced it was shutting down.
Facebook’s reputation took hit as well. Recently, the company launched a TV ad campaign addressing the controversy and pledged to do more for our data privacy. At the same time, the social media giant is desperately trying to move on. Just a few days ago Facebook unveiled a dating feature that will help people find relationships. Of course many people wondered if this move was a way for Facebook to gather more personal data on users but the company promised it would put several privacy precautions in place.
This whole situation has provided an excellence opportunity for users to do an audit of their privacy settings. Remember when you signed up for Farmville or took that quiz to find out which Office character you are? Chances are when you entered those apps, you gave them permission to access your data. Users can and should review which apps and websites they gave access to. Users should also take a look at who is able to see locations, photos, posts and other personal information. Additionally you can download a copy of your Facebook information at any time. This will include information that is not available simply by logging into your account, like the ads you have clicked on, IP addresses, and more.
Of course deleting your account is also an option but Facebook already has your information. Deleting your profile doesn’t necessarily mean your information will be permanently wiped from Facebook’s database. Again this was outlined in the Terms of Service which we accepted, “removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time.” Plus, it’s fun to interact with friends and brands on social media. We use it for our clients as a way for them to connect with their customers. Moving forward, you’ll just have to be more aware of the information you put out there and be a bit more hesitant before you click accept.