With the data breach issue from Facebook and Cambridge analytica this week, a lot of people are really concerned about their privacy being stolen. Let’s analyze a little bit.
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In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app called ‘Thisisyourdailylife’. Facebook, at that time, still being the biggest social networking site, should have had extremely strict data security policies. Except, they did not! So the story goes like this: The app was installed by 300,000 people and since they agree to the terms and conditions of the app, the app was not only able to access the information of these people, but also all of their friends. Putting an average of 150 friends for each of these 300,000 people, excluding common friends, we end up with an estimate of around 50 Million people’s data which Kogan had access to. Later Kogan shared this data with Cambridge Analytica and after knowing this in 2015, Facebook banned Kogan and demanded Cambridge Analytica to delete the information obtained from Kogan, to which they agreed. Except again, they did not delete it and used it for malicious purposes, without any consent from anybody.
Facebook knew about all these and remained silent for almost 2 years until the mass media dug up the issue this week and suddenly people are very concerned about privacy. If this data was used for simply targeted advertising, it might do less harm but the problem is much deeper than that. You see, your brain is a very gullible machine. It always craves for interesting things and cares less about the authenticity of those. It is also affected by the confirmation bias, where it tries to keep the ideas surrounding itself with what it believes or adapts to what the people nearby it believe. Social media like Facebook know this quite well and with the right amount of data, they can target and influence your ideas like
“Whether climate change is real or not?”
“Is vaccination really useful”
and even “whether you should vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton”
Your ideas shape your life and it’s important to protect your data and privacy. There might have been 1000s of data breaches like the one happened last week, which might not even come out. How can you prevent yourself from getting affected? Well, delete your social media account, throw your phone into the dustbin. Oh wait, I’m not here to give the ideal crap. Using some of these platforms have become the bare necessity of your life, not because you’re addicted but because the society is shaped so. So what can you practically do?
With Android, make sure that you allow app permissions diligently. Identify suspicious apps and block them. Why would a photo editing app require access to your microphone?
In social media platforms like facebook and twitter, you can go to the settings and then go to apps option. There you can see all the apps that have access to your profile information. You can click the app and edit what all information it has access to or remove it all together. Don’t log in to suspicious websites using your social media credentials.
Facebook has even made a long list of promises regarding privacy that it’ll make in the near future. But as long as you use these platform, social media apps like Facebook will always snoop into your private life, Google will creepily track you and Amazon will keep recording your purchases. This data breach scandal is not about how you’re losing your privacy, but just the tip of the iceberg. Like someone intelligent said, you lost your privacy so many years back when you started using these services and it’s not coming back, anytime soon.