Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have been dominating the latest headlines, but we shouldn’t treat this scandal as an isolated incident. This is really a symptom of a much larger privacy problem and just one reason we need far more comprehensive privacy protections.
You may have heard arguments over whether the disclosure of Facebook user data to Cambridge Analytica was a data breach. Whether or not it was in the legal sense (we’ll let the lawyers hash that out), it was definitely a breach of the trust that we have put into Facebook: a company that holds some of our most personal data.
The real issue here is that our privacy expectations rarely line up with the reality of how our data will be treated and our ability to make informed choices. Complicated legal terms of service are wrapped up in a standard “click here if you want to use this product” button and we are left with the decision to take it or leave it. In this situation, Facebook users connected their accounts with a third-party app and their information was both disclosed and used in ways that fully violated their trust.
We have joined with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and many other consumer and privacy groups to urge the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook’s alleged disclosure of 50 million Americans’ personal data.
In the meantime, if you’re concerned about what you may be sharing on Facebook, here are a couple of quick tips:
- Review your Facebook privacy settings and check which third-party apps you have authorized to integrate with your account. If you want a step-by-step tutorial, see How-To Geek's How to Stop Facebook Giving Your Data To Third Parties.
- Be aware of what you’re sharing. Before you hit Post, just think for a second about how you’d feel if your photo, video or words were shared with everyone in the world. Lifehacker also has a good article with tips, Don't Delete Facebook - Just Be Smarter On Facebook.
If you’ve had any experiences with privacy problems using third-party apps on Facebook, please share your story with us!