By now you may have read about or at least spotted a news headline with the words, Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Data, Privacy.
In a nutshell:
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.
You can read a little more about the full story here.
Maybe you don’t follow tech news and this washed over you a little. Or perhaps you aren’t surprised about this kind of political rigging. The thing is though, it’s not just about politics. The way that Facebook is watching and maybe even listening to us should be of some concern, and not just to those who are in high positions of power or influence.
This latest revelation has rattled many people. The hashtag #deletefacebook has been sweeping across social media as people encourage each other to exit the platform. On the other hand, many people don’t care. They are happily oblivious or to the other extreme, just assume we are all being watched and manipulated no matter what we do online.
What exactly does Facebook know and see?
Here is a quick overview of the information that Facebook gathers from your activity on their platform:
- Your location
- The websites you browse
- Your finances
- Posts you type but then don’t publish
- Your mood
The data facebook gathers can potentially show your current location, places you may visit soon based on other web browsing, tickets bought for events or tourist destinations. So much of the web is now connected to social media via ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons that Facebook can be pretty sure of where you are even if you aren’t on Facebook. Data about your online purchases and your home address combined with info from other marketing partners gives Facebook a good overview of your financial status. Facebook sees the words you type in as your status before you press the ‘post’ button. Based on this and the actual posts you do publish, Facebook can see what kind of mood you may be in and, despite them saying they won’t sell this info to advertisers… well, we aren’t completely convinced.
You can see the post where we have gathered this info here. The linked article also has some very helpful information on how you can control your privacy better. If you are concerned about these issues and want to be as safe as possible, take some time to read through it.
If you have a personal account on Facebook, read the linked article above, change your settings if you are concerned about your data. Consider carefully what you share online.
If you are a local business or organisation one of the actions we have always encouraged you to take is, to get onto social media to connect and share so, we don’t want to contradict ourselves here.
We don’t want to scaremonger either.
But, we have always tried to be clear that you cannot rely on one single social media platform. Your online presence needs to be flexible. In short, if you depend solely on one social media platform and they do something illegal, shut down, move the goal posts… then you may find yourself backed into a corner and potentially having to start your social media journey all over again.
We aren’t saying #deletefacebook but, are you building elsewhere online? On another platform?
And is that good enough?
What we mean is, what happens if dependance on other social media platforms leaves you in the same vulnerable position?
Stamp out your own footprint
Every social media platform has the potential to shut down, move, change, disrupt your dependance on them. If you are a business, organisation and/or a church, social media is not enough. It’s not stable.
We love social media but, you need to stamp out your own footprint if you want to be effective online in the long-term.
If you want to stick around and make a lasting impact, you need a website and a blog.
I first started saying this in 2004.
You still need to be aware of what information you share and keep your eyes on how data works. You still need to stay safe online but, your own website with your own blog allows you to build something that you have more control over. You can then use social media to create and grow your audience. You need to build your own thing.
Get in touch with us?
Our wider team has been working with computers, networking, Internet, security, data and design for over twenty years. We have the experience and knowledge to help, no matter the size of your business or organisation. We don’t just focus on one platform, we’d rather look at the bigger picture.
Or maybe you are not in business but are concerned about security on your laptop, home computer or other devices?
Get in touch, we’d love to chat to you.