Social media data breaches are a reality in today’s online world, and it’s a risk everyone takes when they create an account. Is this potential loss of privacy enough to deter people from using social media? Does it even matter anymore? Let’s find out.
How Much Control Do We Have?
In her WBUR News (NPR) article “Most Americans Feel They’ve Lost Control of Their Online Data,” Mary Louise Kelly explores the concept of online privacy in light of the recent Facebook breach that compromised 87 million users. Data was given, not stolen, to Cambridge Analytica, raising many questions from consumers.
Namely, what about privacy?
Lee Rainie, director of Internet and technology research at Pew Research Center says that “three-quarters of Americans say that control matters a lot to them but 91 percent of Americans say that they feel that all Americans have lost control of their data and don’t really know what they would do to re-capture some of that control.”
In terms of “boundaries” this article explores how there seems to be a line between what matters and what doesn’t. Purchasing habits, political views, and cultural habits aren’t considered that sensitive to people, while things like health information, Social Security details, and private correspondence are a big concern. People are scared of the latter group being violated.
There is also a fairly widely assumed notion that younger generations “don’t care” that much about privacy, but that is not entirely fair to make this wide-berth assumption. While younger people live online and can be more “forgiving” of privacy breaches, they are reported to be more “vigilant” than older people in monitoring their online presence, such as knowing exactly when/how they are tagged. Identity reputation management is critical to this younger generation, but there doesn’t appear to be any facts to support they “don’t care” about their private data being compromised.
However, based off recent news stories and pushback on recent breaches, it appears that many people (regardless of age) care. They care very much, indeed. Which raises another question: how can you protect yourself?
Keeping Your Personal Information Under Lock and Key
In Christen A. Johnson’s Chicago Tribune article “After Facebook data breach, 6 tips on how to secure your personal information on social media,” this author shares key protection strategies from Russ Schrader, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, briefly outlined below.
Smart sharing: Online content sticks forever, so take a long-sighted approach with what you post. Do you want potential employers to view this material five years down the road? It’s smart thinking like this that can ward off future headaches.
Own yourself: Think carefully about what you are comfortable with putting out there, and adjust your privacy settings to reflect your specific need for privacy.
Clean it up: It’s time to take inventory. How many apps do you actually have on your phone? Now, how many do you use? Clearing out unused apps can help minimize the places where your personal data lives.
Amp up the device security: Good passwords are good, but that is only one small step. Take it up a notch and implement things like long pass phrases and/or facial identification to grant access.
Embrace two-step verification: This is important for information-sensitive sites like banking websites or health apps. In addition to two-step verification see what other boosted-security options are available to make it harder to crack.
Double check the “ask”: Sometimes you have to trust your gut. If sites or apps are requesting personal information you don’t think they need for your required action, don’t give it. You may be surprised to read the fine-print of what information is “optional” at sign-up, and often times bare bones information like your name and email address is all that is needed. Skip the “added” details that could be used for unwanted profile creations.
Does Privacy Matter to You?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Do you think we live in a world where people will see data breaches as the necessary price to pay for social media, or do you think consumers will start a movement to demand more security protection for our online lives? What do you think the future of social media privacy holds?
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