The Facebook Data Scandal, What Have We Learnt?
Hello readers. It’s been a little over a month now since the Facebook data scandal erupted on the news. For the most part reporters have moved on to new stories.
However as a result of the story people have begun to debate the issue of how companies collect, store and use data from individuals when they are online. The #deleateFacebook hashtag trended in the days and weeks following the scandal. The news reported how Facebook users were horrified at the potential misuse of their data.
Personally I wasn’t shocked by subsequent stories of how much data is collected by various companies. I remember reading something a while ago that said something along the lines of ‘If the online product you’re using is free then YOU are the product’. To me this makes sense. Nothing comes for free, so companies like Facebook have to gain something from the millions of users.
Further more I was aware of how companies used data from online activity to influence adverts shown to people. If I search for something on Ebay or Amazon, products I view there will soon show up in adverts on Facebook. When I was getting married adverts were influenced by my Facebook statuses. For example when I mentioned going for my wedding dresses fitting, adverts for dresses turned up. Even though I never looked at wedding dresses online.
Because of my own understanding on data collection, I was surprised by the reported reactions of other people. Shocked at finding out that just about everything they searched for, posted or viewed online was recorded somewhere. This got me wondering if the views of people I knew online would be like my own, or more in line with the media reports.
To find out more about people’s views on the issues, I set up a series of polls on Twitter.
Q1 – Will You Delete Facebook?
The first of my polls went straight to the heart of the matter. Were people bothered enough by the scandal enough to actually go through with the delete Facebook trend? The results showed the majority of people weren’t. It is worth noting that many people who responded to this question said they couldn’t delete Facebook because they are reliant on it for blogging or other businesses.
Q2 – Are You Surprised At The Type And Amount Of Data Collected?
This question was not focused on the alledged data leak, but to do with data collection in general. Companies like Google and Facebook can collect a huge range of data from people’s devices. Everything from phone numbers, emails, the locations when they log in to apps, private messages and even what emojis people use.
Due to the reported outrage shown in the media I thought people would be unaware of the type and amount of data collected, but almost 60% of people who answered said they weren’t surprised at all. Some pointed out that data is collected from people all the time, for example in supermarkets when people use their loyalty cards.
Personally I fall into the surprised at how much data has been stored. Seriously,I know they can record anything, but why would peoples emoji use be of any interest to anyone?
Q3 – Have You Checked Your Security Settings?
The results to this question really took me by surprise, because a lot of the people answering the poll are bloggers and therefore quite media savvy. However only 47% of people had check their settings due to the scandal. It is possible the other 53% are quite happy with their level of security and felt no need to check, but even so I expected more people to have made the be checks.
Personally I checked mine even though I believed it to be very secure, and I found things that I could tighten up on.
The results of this poll seem at odds with what was being portrayed on the news. Even if people are not happy about the behaviour of companies like Google and Facebook, they don’t appear to be threatened by it. A lot of people said they try to put as little information as possible out there to be collected. Some use other smart tactics to prevent their data being collected, such as this by @tattooed_mummy
I use this tactic myself to some extent,with fake birthdays and phone numbers etc if asked for those details.
It is clear from the poll results that I’m not alone in my views about the data scandal. A majority of people are aware that any online activity is open to data collection. It seems people are begrudgingly accepting that data collection is what they must put up with in exchange for the benefits they get from being online. That said people are getting smarter about keeping their data safe, and sharing as little as possible, even fake data where possible.
It’s worth noting in my summing up that the majority of people who answered my polls are bloggers. Due to the nature of blogging these people are quite clued up on how social media works, and their answers may not be the same as the average non blogging Facebook user (yes Janet, I’m looking at you).
Were you surprised by the Facebook data scandal? Have you changed anything about your online activities as a result if the scandal?
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