Reasons Facebook Cannot Offer Complete Social Media Privacy Protection

Written by Editor in Chief

April 1, 2020

Reasons Facebook Cannot Offer Complete Social Media Privacy Protection

In the last quarter of 2019, news broke that over 267 million Facebook accounts had been breached by hackers. The world was in awe. This makes one wonder, is our privacy safe in the hands of Facebook and other social network giants?

The European Union and the US have imposed billions of dollars worth of fines on Facebook for various privacy violations. Even with this, the company doesn’t seem to have mended its ways. You know why? Because it generates millions in revenues from the data it collects from its users. What is left is for users to go that extra mile to protect themselves.

You don’t pay any fee to join social media, but what you don’t know is that these companies earn cash from selling targeted ads to online users. After all, ‘If you’re not paying for it; you are the product’.

Here Is the Thing:

When you like, dislike, share or comment on a post, you are sharing your preferences- you are communicating to companies what exactly you like. Facebook then collects this data to match ads that you may like.

In 2018, the United States recorded a whopping $107.5 billion profit in online advertising. 20% percent of this revenue went to Facebook. Experts project the figures to increase exponentially by the end of 2020. When they make billions from selling our data, they do not mind the occasional fine or cases.

There are so many ways through which Facebook collects data from its users. Other than the information that users share on their pages, Facebook monitors what is shared and liked, Facebook groups and events that users follow and attend, as well as information on location. Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and they also do this too on these social platforms.

If asked, social media firms will claim that they do not sell data to other companies, but rather use them to help consumers get their ideal products or services.

Here is the thing:

Stored data can be stolen or get lost, and we saw this from the December breach incidence. On the same nerve, illegal stakeholders are now leveraging legal online advertising funnels to commit scams. Experts have found that in every ten online ads, one “malvertises”. This is because purchasing ad space is a lucrative venture for criminals to spread scams and malware.

There are many scams online- sweepstake reward scams, gift certificates, fake surveys, work-from-home jobs, and romance scams. You are always going to be monitored when using social media. However, you still have the power to reduce the amount of data that is unwillingly collected by these social media companies.

If you care about your financial health, then you ought to consider ID theft protection. Your personal information can easily be stolen and sued to acquire debt, credit and use services. And if your information is used to acquire money and something wrong does happen, your financial health can be affected.

Threats to Privacy on Social Media

Data Mining

Once you log out of the internet, you always leave the data trail behind. When you create a new social media profile, you provide information such as your name, birth info, personal interests, and location. Moreover, companies gather information on user behaviors, how, where, and when users engage with their platform. Companies store and leverage this data for target advertising to users. That’s not even the scariest thing, companies can share your information with third parties without your consent.


Phishing Attempts

This is common practice with online criminals. Hackers can access sensitive personal data through a text message, email or even a phone call. Phishing attacks usually appear as they come from a reliable company. The messages are crafted in such a way they lure you into sharing your credit card details, bank information or passwords. Phishing attacks are common in social media networks.


Malware Sharing

Malware is used to gain access to PCs and laptops to collect data, which can be used to extort money, steal sensitive information or money from forced ads. Criminals use social media because it is easy to identify victims there. Hackers would take your account and share malware to your contacts or friends.

Here are things you can do to help protect yourself:

  • Disable ad tracking on your devices
  • Browsers come with plug-ins that can deter data tracking. For instance, the Firefox browser plug-in is known as Facebook Container that controls the amount of data social media platforms can access.
  • Make sure that you always delete cookies from your browser. Alternatively, you can browse privately via the “privacy-first” option.
  • Delete social media applications from your mobile phone because they are designed to collect real-time data about you.
  • You can use the Facebook Privacy tool from IdentiSafe to unsubscribe internet advertising.
  • Stop Facebook email and phone lookup- you can stop members of the public from access your Facebook account using your email address or phone number. Just navigate to the Facebook privacy setting, and choose “who can look me up” page and adjust the options to either “Friends of Friends” or “Friends.”

If you still opt to use social media, keep in mind you will come across a great deal of malvertising. Therefore, always be careful. Consider your privacy before using portal device or dating platforms.

Avoid ads that come from sources that you do not know. Do not take quizzes from any unknown platforms. Be on the forefront to support laws that fight for social media privacy. Otherwise, privacy infringement will continue for as long as people access social media platforms, who use their data to make a fortune.

If you’re not paying for it, then you are the product.

Wonder how “free” products can be free? How do these companies make money if they aren’t charging anything for their product. The answer is your data. Nothing in this world is free, and this statement stands especially true in this data mining age. Companies like Facebook and Google sell your data to make a profit while keeping their core services free. 

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