Facebook is used to riding high. Not so much lately.
First they said that Cambridge Analytica inappropriately captured the data of 47 million users after 250,000 or so users completed a survey and they captured the information of all of those people’s friends without their permission.
Now they are saying that their arithmetic wasn’t so good and it wasn’t 47 million but rather 87 million users (Source: National Review).
Facebook is also saying that “malicious actors” took advantage of the search tools on Facebook and captured public information on most of all 2 billion users. The attack was very creative. Take email addresses or phone numbers compromised in one of many breaches and pop them into Facebook’s search box. Until yesterday, that would retrieve any information you marked as public including photos, job history, friends and other information. Yesterday, as part of their “rehabilitation”, they disabled the feature, but not before bad guys stole terabytes of data (Source: Washington Post).
Then there was the memo by Facebook exec “Boz” who said that anything that we do to connect more people is good, even if it is used by terrorists. Now that the memo has become public, he claims that he didn’t really believe that. (Source: CNBC).
Finally, after first saying that while he liked the EU’s new privacy regulation, GDPR, Facebook had no plans to make that the rule in places where they were not being forced to do that by law, they are now saying, just kidding (Source: Ars Technica).
Okay, given that Facebook seems to be acting like the twin of Mr. Robot’s Evil Corp., what should you do?
First, be a conscious user. Even today Facebook allows you to make information private or visible to just friends. My posts are public, intentionally, but nothing else is public – only visible to friends.
Given that Facebook makes all of its money from selling your data, the default is always going to be share (or steal) your data. You need to proactively change the defaults.
As Facebook makes changes in response to the current PR disaster it is in the middle of, see what new capabilities they offer and take advantage of them.
Finally, don’t post so much. Do you really need to post everything that you do? Once you post it, it is out there. At least one insurance company is denying burglary claims if people posted their vacation plans prior to returning home. Be smart; post less.
Social media is wonderful, but with wonderfulness comes problems, so be smart.