Social Media Marketing

Facebook Controversies

Facebook Controversies - Is There A Way to Keep Yourself from Being Tracked

Facebook, a platform to connect with long-lost friends; sharing pictures of the recent Paris trips or having dinner at “Breakfast at Tiffani’s”; sharing proposals and wedding photos, updating your joyful moments as status for your friends and relatives to know; making friends and do lot more on one single platform is something that Facebook has given us over the years.

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We trust Facebook like we trust our bank or doctor, isn’t it? But is it wise to put this much trust on Facebook? Giving up all your information, including date of birth, phone number, and even access to your contact list or email contacts is like giving the keys to your secret locker.

Why do we forget, after all, Facebook is here to do the business. What is the Facebook business? Have you ever seen a hotel that serves you profoundly without charging you a penny? No, right! Because the business always has an expense that the hotel has to meet to run the business. It’s a simple common sense that Facebook is earning on our information.

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You type “Property” on Facebook and very next hour; you will see property ads, pages and groups bombarded your timeline. It’s the core business, where Facebook tracked your searches and based on that information, you will see a lot of advertisements.

To some extent, it is fine. After all, it helps us in to buy what we want or get suitable information. But, what if the information that you have given or shared on the Facebook account is given to strangers. Will you be OK with that? I won’t. This is what happen recently when an app circulated on Facebook by Google Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company that works on political grounds, collected data of 50 million users on Facebook.

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What Was The Issue?

Cambridge Analytica, a UK based data analytics firm employed by the Trump campaign 2016 got ahold of 50 million Facebook users data, without the consent and knowledge of the users. The on-going testifying of Mark Zuckerberg before Congress is a glimpse of the controversy, driven by the lead that the firm Cambridge Analytica illegally used Facebook user’s data to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.

The troubles initiated back in 2015 when app developer Aleksandr Kogan requested to access information from users who downloaded the third-party app called “thisisyourdigitallife” on Facebook, which hypothetically said to be a research app used by psychologists. But in reality, the data was being shared with UK based company Cambridge Analytica to engage political parties in targeting voters with specific messages.

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What is Cambridge Analytica?

To all who are still unclear about the scandal, Cambridge Analytica is a political firm which establishes and analysis its political agendas, claimed to build psychological profiles of voters to help clients focus on how to target messages to win elections. The company has been accused of buying and accessing millions of Americans private data from a researcher who stated to Facebook that he collected it strictly for academic purposes.

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Facebook allowed a psychology professor ‘Aleksandr Kogan’, at the University of Cambridge who owns Global Science Research Company, to harvest data from users through the app they downloaded. Like all apps which ask permission to access your information, the problem arises when Facebook users agreed to hand over their information to Kogan’s app, also giving access to harvest data on all their Facebook friends. The breach officially occurred when Kogan sold the data on millions of users to Cambridge Analytica violating Facebook privacy rules.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Statement

Facebook executives did not respond to the issue immediately but gave a statement later on. While Mark Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook made a blunder and accepted that his Company failed to responsibly protect data of its customers. He gave a timeline how the data was harvested and in 2017 onwards the company changed the way it functioned to limit the ability of ‘abusive apps’ to collect data from Facebook users and their friends who did not give consent to the app.

“Zuckerberg confirmed that journalists informed Facebook as early as in 2015 that Kogan shared the data with Cambridge Analytica, after which the company banned Kogan’s apps on the social platform because all of them were violating Facebook policies. A code of conduct was broken by Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook, leading to privacy crack of the users and who share their data with us and in return trust the company to protect it. We need to fix that,” he wrote on Facebook.

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“In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social…To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them. In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.”

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He further added, the company will investigate all apps about Facebook which had access to enormous amounts of information before the policy changes in 2014, along with Facebook plans to restrict developers access to Facebook users data in the coming days. Moreover, the company will give more rights to the users to deny and allow permission to third-party developers that collect their personal information.

How Facebook Apps Can View And Use Your Profile Data

Facebook being neck deep stuck is held accountable for countless accusations which need some attention from Facebook’s CEO, but in the meantime, it’s essential to see if you have given shady apps the access to your data over the years. Who knows maybe you are among the 50 million users whose data was accessed. There is a high chance out of the 170 apps, some of them were able to access some of the information on your profile.

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Unintentionally on a daily basis, we grant permission to countless apps in a few taps. Can you imagine a game as simple as a Puzzle is designed for Voter manipulation? Sounds dicey but it’s high time you check what your apps can access.

  • On Facebook click the downward facing arrow located at the upper right side of your News Feed. After which click on Settings
  • Tap on ‘Apps’ located in the left-hand sidebar
  • From Mobile tap on the icon displaying three stacked lines. It’ll be shown on top of the screen if using Android and on the bottom if using iOS.
  • Click on settings and scroll down to find ‘Account Settings’ and tap on Apps
  • Lastly, tab on ‘Logged in with Facebook’ to see which services are accessing your account.
  • After that click on “Logged in with Facebook” to see the services accessing your account.
  • You’ll be able to see all of the apps you’ve logged into with Facebook.

Authentic websites like Amazon and Airbnb can be trusted but apps like Animal Crossing accessing profile data sounds absurd. It can access unlimited doors of your data including relationship status, birthday and friend list. Its advised to remove the app and get rid of it. It’s pretty much obvious to ask why would a childish app like Animal Crossing require your profile data? And to what extent does it have the authority to access your data. You can remove the app permanently.

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US Congress is alerted with the shocking issue and many congressmen have raised concerns to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Is There A Way From Being Traced?

It all comes down to the question; Can you avoid being traced through Facebook? No matter what you do, you cannot ignore the power of social media. Even if your data is not online and you’re a regular user on Facebook who has deleted his/her account. Your details will still be easily accessible. How? Its something called a Shadow Profile. It collects data which Facebook has collected from the user that’s not been provided. You must be thinking deleting Facebook will remove all your information online.

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That’s partially true. Facebook collects data from those users who have never used Facebook as well. If a friend tags you and you aren’t a user, even then Facebook saves your name and attaches an image to it creating a shadow profile. Signing up on Facebook leads to all data being used to create a shadow profile. Being asked in Hearing Mark Zuckerberg consecutively denied having the knowledge of a Shadow Profile.

There’s are many ways with which you can save your identity from being traced like Encryption, hiding your original IP and layering your internet traffic. Most highly recommended way is by hiding your original IP with a fake one. This way even if your activities are being tracked, you would still be safe from being tracked.

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What to Expect?

In the end, we can only say to avoid putting extra information about yourself online. We believe if we aren’t doing anything wrong, we shouldn’t be worrying about anything. Sadly, people who think this notion cannot contemplate seeing how badly things could go wrong online and how your data can be utilized against you in so many ways.

Mark Zuckerberg will be facing some serious heat in the upcoming days and the future of Facebooks privacy and its breached Users data is unknown for now. Then again, you can be traced, no matter what precautions you take.

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