Privacy and the Facebook Tale

 

Just this year, businesses and consumers around the world were shocked to learn that Facebook enabled third-party companies to collect the personal information of more than 87 million Facebook users. Or were they? Facebook’s public relations gurus shifted into damage control mode and issued fervent apologies, Mark Zuckerberg admitting to a “huge mistake” and promising to adjust his company’s third-party consent policies. In the wake of all this, firms worldwide are left wondering how this breach might affect the security of company data and what procedures they should implement to protect that data.

 

The data extracted by Cambridge Analytica exploited loopholes, which made the violation technically legal, but ran afoul of Facebook’s Standard Terms of Service. Most Facebook users didn’t realise that third-party apps could acquire personal information not only from those who gave consent, but also from the friend’s accounts of those who gave consent. The result was that if you were Facebook friends with someone who agreed to share data with a third-party app, then that third-party app could acquire whatever information you let your Facebook friends see. The loophole also allowed businesses to share data from one account to another, facilitating the illegal sale of consumer information.

 

It should be viewed as a cautionary tale for the growing digital landscape but what are actionable steps to protect your business.

 

Three Actionable Steps

 

 

1) Secure Your Business Page

 

You must review the security settings of your page and the administrative accounts associated with your page. Start by reviewing and updating your page settings, permissions, and administrative accounts.

Avoid setting a “Featured Admin,” or else that admin’s name and Facebook account will be visible to those looking at your page. Exercise extreme caution when downloading or installing apps that add features to your Facebook business page. Any of these apps could eventually be compromised and be used to extract data from your business page.

 

2) Understand Data Collection Rules

 

Indefinitely suspend your Facebook advertising. Despite Facebook giving access to more than 2 billion active monthly users, a growing number of businesses have elected to shift away from Facebook and focus on other advertising opportunities.

Should you decide to continue advertising with Facebook, ensure that you carefully review all new rules regarding data collection and user consent, including a tool that requires you to confirm you received consent before you collect email addresses and a new streamlined privacy and security page. Also keep in mind that as alarmed users update their privacy settings and limit which ads they want to see based on their interests, you may see decreased return on your advertising investment.

 

3) Privacy Education

 

Depending on your level of tech knowledge you may seek help in understanding social media and the threats it poses. These threats can pose real dangers in regard to protecting client and business data.

Careful protection of login information and limitation of how and when data is shared. This includes avoiding single-sign-on authentication to social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and any programs that have access to their personal information, including payment details.

 

Key Takeaways

 

In today’s complex software and application environment, data security isn’t a given. The Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data debacle is another example of just how vigilant business must be in defending themselves against unwanted data exposure. If these data breaches can occur to global business then a local cyber-attack to a less protected business can create openings for organisations to steal private data.

 

These potential pitfalls also present opportunities for creative solutions. The advent of blockchain technology to create secure data transactions will likely become the foundation of future data sharing. Additionally, the federal and state governments should encourage the right climate for innovation by creating nimble legislation to address the evolving complexity of computer language and information.

 

Do the right thing and you can grow the level of trust with your clients and protect their valuable data online.

 

If your company needs guidance on privacy and social media, contact the Cashflow Tech Systemz team at info@cashflowtechsystemz.com.au.

 

About the author

Over the last decade Deane has held senior roles within small and large organisations by partnering with the business to maximise value.

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