Is your social media account safe?

|| March 28, 2018

By Jordan McDonald

Social Media Coordinator

Last week #deletefacebook was among the top trending topics on social media. It’s started a discussion around online privacy. If you’re on social media, should you be worried?

We’ve heard so much over the last week on Cambridge Analytica and their use of detailed, personal Facebook data for political campaigns. There are so many layers to this story but, essentially, Cambridge Analytica is a company that specialises in data analysis. For them, Facebook is a goldmine.

You may be like many others who think: “My privacy settings are strict so only my friends can see what I share.” That may be true so how did Cambridge Analytica get a hold of so much user data? Have you ever used a third party app and taken advantage of the convenience of the Login With Facebook button? There is the loophole. As soon as you give permission to that third-party app, you’re granting them access to a certain level of your Facebook information.

A Russian-American psychology professor created a third-party app called “thisisyourdigitallife” which utilised Facebook’s login feature and collected data on 270,000 individual accounts. The data was collected in the form of a ‘personality test’, which became a psychological survey. So, people were not only handing over psychological assessments of themselves but also their complete Facebook profiles, to which Alex Kogan set about analysing both data sets to find correlations between people’s personality results and their social media behaviour.

At the time this app was created, Facebook’s user terms allowed for third-party apps using Facebook to access your personal Facebook data as well as anyone on your friends list whose privacy settings allowed it. So, using a predictive model they created by comparing people’s test results and their Facebook activity, they applied that model to the profiles of your friends to predict those people’s behaviours and opinions. Thus, this process compiled data across 50 million Facebook users from the 270,000 accounts who used the app originally. Cambridge Analytica then bought the data.

Recently, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica and a media investigation revealed the methods and tactics used for political campaigning purposes. Facebook has since suspended the groups suspected of offending from their social media platform.
People are now asking what apps they have provided their Facebook information to? You can check and you can cancel them. Simply go to Facebook, find and select ‘Settings’, and then scroll down to ‘Apps’. Here you will find a list of every app currently allowed to access your Facebook profile. To remove the apps, simply select the apps concerned and click the ‘X’ to remove.

If you wish to turn off all ability for apps to use your Facebook account, scroll further down on this apps page and find ‘Apps, Websites, Plugins’. Click that and select, ‘Disable Platform’. What this will mean though is that for any app you’ve signed up to using Facebook, you will now have to go back and create an account with that app – the choice is yours.

Should you be worried? Yes and no – my advice is to be cautious.

If you haven’t updated your privacy settings in a while (or ever), take 10 minutes and review them because it’s likely there are new criteria you weren’t familiar with. Aside from that, consider what you share on social media – the rule I grew up on: if you wouldn’t want your mum to see it, then don’t post it. Social media is great for keeping in touch with friends and sharing moments of your life, but companies want that information. Are you okay with surrendering it?

Maybe it’s not time to #deletefacebook, but perhaps it’s time to tighten up our security.