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Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Facebook users’ trust shaken by data leak

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After the uproar, finally Facebook has confessed that it stalked users who have accounts with the social network, but said that the tracking only happened because of a bug that is now being fixed. Though Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for the “mistakes his company made” in how it handled data belonging to 50 million of its users, this incident of data leakage has threatened the Facebook users around the globe. Right to privacy has hampered which it ultimately assigned bad names for Facebook.

Keep in mind that if you delete your Facebook account for good, it might take up to 90 days for all your data to get wiped off from Facebook’s servers. If you are looking to kill your Facebook presence, don’t forget to backup your account and save an offline copy. Those of you who choose to remain on the platform can only wait for the firm’s next steps. Facebook is the front runner among other sprinters like Google, who were collecting metadata on massive scale and using it to get insights on everything from a person’s net worth to her fitness level. Those insights were used by anyone who could pay to use it, ethical or otherwise, mostly otherwise.

#DeleteFacebook was trending all around the world and sarcastically the hashtag is taking over not only Twitter but Facebook as well. The world wants you to delete the social media app and there’s good reason for it — Facebook’s questionable user privacy policies and the way the company handles private data. While Facebook calls it a violation of its data usage policies and has denied any “data breach”, the company disclosed that in 2015, a psychology professor named AleksandrKogan from the University of Cambridge, created a Facebook app named “thisisyourdigitallife”, designed as a personality prediction tool. The app download required a Facebook login, giving the developers access to information about a user’s city of residence, things he/she liked on Facebook as well as information about his/her friends. This data was ultimately made available to Cambridge Analytica and Strategic Communications Laboratories that used it to assess the personality and biases of millions of Facebook users and targeted election campaign-based ads at them; but Facebook has rebuffed to call this a data breach and rather chose to believe it as a policy disruption. The company claims that the user data was sought in the garb of educational research.

Facebook eventually deleted the app from its platform in 2016 and trusted third parties to destroy the remaining user information with them. The Observer reports “Facebook did not pursue a response when the letter initially went unanswered for weeks because Wylie was traveling, nor did it follow up with forensic checks on his computers or storage.”If Facebook knew about user data getting into the wrong hands back in 2015, why did the company wait till now to suspend the two data mining firms that violated its policies? More importantly, why did the firm not inform the affected users of this clear privacy violation? Does this mean that anyone who creates a Facebook app has the ability to illegally share user data with third parties without any checks by the social media giant?

Facebook is now losing its popularity. Most original users of platform have abandoned it because of its ideology. Bad press can take away the massive daily users it has gained so far.

Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview to CNN that his company is committed to stop any interference in the US midterm elections in November or the national elections in India and Brazil. He apologised for the “mistakes his company made” in how it handled data belonging to 50 million of its users and promised tougher steps to restrict developers’ access to such information.

Facebook is under increased scrutiny after a whistleblower’s allegation that London-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed Facebook user information to build profiles of American voters that were later used to help elect USPresident Donald Trump in 2016. The controversy reached the Indian shores with both the BJP and the Congress trading charges of the other having used the firm’s services.

Union Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned the links between the firm and the Congress at a press conference. Criticism kept brewing, as the Facebook CEO remained mum since the Cambridge Analytica story broke. Ending more than four days of silence, Zuckerberg admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user-data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm. He claimed that the Facebook has already taken the most important step to prevent such a situation from happening again. Zuckerberg acknowledges that there are more the company needs to do.

Whatever Facebook does or whatever Zuckerberg accepts, the fact remains as a threat to privacy and in spite all these, common public will not take this issue seriously because they are addicted to social network, and many maintain their privacy levels quite high. Even otherwise, you can find maximum data about a person on Google, in this digital era one can rarely hide his credential or maintain privacy. It won’t be an exaggeration if we say that people are more devoted and hooked to social media than their blood relations.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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