Facebook Amidst Privacy Crisis: Delete or Not?

Facebook may be facing its biggest challenge yet as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal continues to cast a spell of doubt over the site’s security despite public reassurance from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. As in the recent fake news epidemic, Facebook claims to take all steps necessary to protect the public but the big fish aren’t biting. Already, there seems to be an exodus of big companies (who like Tesla deleted their Facebook page) after it was revealed that the personal data of around 50 million Facebook users were collected without their knowledge or consent. Although the general public is more forgiving, it’s perplexing how this could be an “innocent mistake” from a tech giant in a world where the option for two-factor authentication has become prevalent. Surprisingly even WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, whose company was bought for a whopping $19B by Facebook tweeted about supporting the #deletefacebook movement!

As expected, the leading social media platform’s popularity plummeted when it was revealed that Facebook was used to steal private information during the Trump campaign. One recent study showed that 48% of users no longer had a favorable view in contrast to only 30% who did. That being said, it was also a big surprise why most U.S. users have not yet changed log-in credentials – knowing fully well that there is no sanctity of data. According to Reuter’s 86% have not changed their log-in credentials in social media including Facebook and an appalling 78% have not switched to private mode on their browser. Going incognito can be done on the fly but it takes a little more effort to physically cover your device or laptop camera. Something that can’t be shrugged off because half of the adult users admit to logging on daily.

This breach of trust is something that could have been expected if we were more discerning when downloading the app. In a statement to the Guardian, it said, “Contact uploading is optional. People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone—it’s explained right there in the apps when you get started.” Surreptitious or not, the amount of call or SMS data is astounding and when you realize that it is free to use, then it looks like our collective data becomes part of the product for data miners – but is it a fair trade-off?

“It’s also our responsibility to tell you how we collect and use your data in language that’s detailed, but also easy to understand. In the coming weeks, we’ll be proposing updates to Facebook’s terms of service that include our commitments to people.”          Erin Egan, Facebook

If you think Facebook is indispensable because you are too attached to your social friends and had gotten used to the noise and trivia, you don’t have to delete your account. In a move to regain trust, Facebook itself has taken additional steps so users have better control of their security settings:

  1. Data settings and controls have been streamlined and easier to find – and accessible from one location.
  2. What can be shared with apps are now more explicit.
  3. Outdated settings have been removed or revised.
  4. New Privacy Shortcuts menu was introduced; one that is simpler, more visual, and gives you better control of ads, personal information, and who sees your profile, posts and information.

5. Two-factor authentication,

6. Tools for downloading and deleting Facebook data including contacts, photos, posts, pages, apps, comments and the like. You can also download and/or delete data about friends, followers, and who you are following.

 

“We’ll also update our data policy to better spell out what data we collect and how we use it. These updates are about transparency – not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data.”

Photo from https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/privacy-shortcuts/