March 22, 2018

facebook dataOh my oh my, without getting into politics here, I’m appalled by this whole Facebook and Cambridge Analytica nightmare. If you don’t know what it’s all about, here it is from my viewpoint in a nutshell.

A company called Cambridge Analytica used Facebook’s API in 2014 to collect personal information from over 50 million Facebook users. Back in 2014 it was perfectly legal for them to do this, and even within the terms of use for Facebook. Here’s more on that.

Then, Cambridge Analytica sold that data to various entities, including the GOP and the Trump campaign. Most people discovered all this very recently, and there are a ton of stories like this one, on Christopher Wylie, a data geek who engineered a lot of this and then became a whistleblower when he saw how his data analytics skills were being used. (Um… DUH). Read the story, it’s pretty mindblowing.

When all of this came out Facebook stocks took a plunge, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO was suspended, and #QuitFacebook trended on Twitter and nearly every news outlet in the world.

Should you quit Facebook?

Personally, I think that’s a bit extreme. The data is out there already, and in my case, part of my business and the business of my clients still relies on Facebook for at least some of their marketing. Of course, if you were thinking about it anyway, this may be an excellent time to do it.

  • Start with your account settings.
  • Download your Facebook data and take a look at what you’ve been posting. This is a DIY privacy audit. I betcha you’ll be surprised about how much you put out there without thinking, or sometimes realizing.
  • Never, ever, ever click one of those “What type of dog would I be” surveys again! I know, we’ve all done it, and now we know what happens to that data don’t we?
  • Review what sites you use Facebook login for. You may be giving the site more information than you bargained for. And you do not know who sees it once they get it.
  • Do the same thing with the list of apps you connected with. Look long and hard at what apps you are allowing to get your personal information. Again, these all have different types of data collection, take the time to review and revoke access for the ones you don’t know, don’t need or feel icky about.
  • If the two steps above have you totally freaked out, you can turn off the whole platform. Under Apps, Websites and Plugins you can choose to “Turn Platform Off” which will turn off Facebook integration wherever you go. The Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote a great post about this here.
  • Edit your ad preferences. Facebook can show you ads based on sites you’ve visited, apps you’ve used, who already have your contact info or ads you’ve clicked. Take a look at yours here and you may be quite surprised. Change your settings to suit your personal preferences and best judgment.

Am I quitting? Nope. I still need it for work and I have some great friends there that I want to stay in touch with. In general, I’ve been fairly careful, but I know the data is out there. I accept that this is part of living in a digital world and while I do my best to be careful, some of the risk goes with my choices.

I’d love to hear what you think of all this, and what you plan to do, if anything.

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