What we can learn from the Facebook data breach

 In Cyber Security Articles

Facebook Data Scandal…The story so far

The Facebook data scandal has been dominating the headlines. News broke last month that the social media giant harvested personal information about up to 87 million of its users without permission. This information was collected through an app, which was run by data analysts Cambridge Analytica. This data was then used to run targeted online campaigns to influence the results of the American presidential election and the Brexit campaign.

There is no denying of the power of social media – research has found that more and more people are turning to sites like Facebook to get their daily news headlines. It is this exact problem which has led to the uproar that the data was used to sway people into voting in certain directions. So, it’s understandable that the repercussions of this Facebook data scandal have been huge for the company, which has more than a third of the world’s population on its books.

The fallout

Very quickly, social media was awash with users saying they are abandoning the platform with #DeleteFacebook trending on Twitter. Facebook’s stock market values plummeted by billions of dollars. To try and counteract vicious headlines, Facebook ran apologetic adverts across major UK and US newspapers. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, also faced hours of grilling from the US senate committee into the company’s data handling.

The story just kept snowballing. What we find shocking about this Facebook data scandal are the claims that the social media giant knew about the breach for years. The company said they thought they had deleted the data – but they did not carry out a full and proper audit to ensure that was the case. This is a major slip-up and something other companies handling personal data can learn from. If you know there is something amiss, it is of course, best practice to act on it and stop it immediately.

The recovery

Facebook has taken steps to tighten up its data handling and practices. Restrictions have been brought in to tighten up what information apps have access to, including sensitive information such as religious or political views.

Notifications are being sent out to appear in the news feeds of the accounts which may have been involved in the Facebook data breach. There’s also a tool where you can manually check yourself if your information could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica. This will no doubt be unnerving to see if you do log on to the site. Here’s some steps you can take to safeguard your Facebook data.

  • Read Facebook’s updated terms of service and data use policy. You can then make an educated decision on how you use the social media channel and what you share on it.
  • You can clear your search history both of individual records of all of them in one go by clicking in the search box.
  • Look into the settings menu to see what apps you have used and what data you may have shared by doing so.
  • Use the Facebook archive tool to download a copy of all your messages, photos and personal information shared on the platform.
  • If you are still not happy, delete your account – not just deactivate it.

What we can learn from the Facebook data drama

Lessons can be learnt by this Facebook data fallout. All companies, whether big or small, should be properly handling the data of the people who entrust their details to them. Data protection policies need to be simple, transparent and easy to understand. This is especially important with GDPR coming into force next month, which will put huge pressure on companies to use, log, manage and handle data according to new legislation.

It is also important to ensure that not only are you compliant with data protection in-house but that any third party agencies or companies you outsource to and have access to your data are also following the new and stringent legislation. This will ensure that you do not end up a culprit of a media witch hunt, like the Facebook data scandal.

The expert team here at LinkIT can advise you on how to ensure your data protection and practices are watertight. Contact us for a free IT health check to see how your business is performing.

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