Facebook's Privacy Problems

Facebook's Privacy Problems 864 486 N2K

Facebook’s Privacy Problem(s)

Privacy Infringement, Russian Influence Operations, and Congressional Hearings – Oh My!

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his social networking empire have had much to answer for in recent years, with events most recently culminating to Zuckerberg’s two-day public scolding from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. Zuckerberg’s reluctant visit and tacit apology tour in Washington is the result of detailed personal information of nearly 87 million Facebook users ending up in the hands of voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica – a data company with close ties to the Trump campaign. 

Confidence in the multibillion-dollar social networking platform to maintain security for the privacy for its users has been in slow decline. Facebook’s most recent spate of data breach issues has also forced the company to face quite the daunting public relations nightmare and a significant drop in stock value (albeit short-lived).

Unfortunately for Zuckerberg, data privacy is only one complication Facebook has been grappling with. In 2016, the Russian intelligence services used Facebook to conduct sophisticated influence operations to meddle in the U.S. Presidential Election. Understandably, consumer distrust of the online platform has persisted to the extent that the proliferation of the #DeleteFacebook tag has been trending on social media platforms outside of Facebook for days. Simply put, Facebook has been in the limelight for a few years now, and for all the wrong reasons.

Facebook on Data: What Do They Know, and So What?

Rather than list each meticulous data point Facebook knows, or can know about you, Chief Computer Scientist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF), Peter Eckerley summarized Facebook’s data collection and analysis capability nicely. He said, “Facebook can learn almost anything about you by using artificial intelligence to analyze your behavior…that knowledge turns out to be perfect for both advertising and propaganda.” The trouble is, users of the social media platform are often quick to agree to Facebook’s data policy, without giving it a second thought.

The tendency for users to carelessly select “I agree” to the terms of use of many online platforms doesn’t come as a shock to most. Why then, has the Facebook fiasco amassed so much public attention? The answer is scope! More than one billion people use the social network giant for networking, news, online interaction, and marketing – to name a few reasons. In light of the breadth of Facebook’s data collection there are some that contend Zuckerberg is standing trial for the entire tech industry. But the scale and conflict surrounding Facebook is certainly not limited to the technology industry. In fact, this chaos is in no way limited to any single industry. If the last decade has taught us anything, influence from nation state actors, issues of data privacy, and loss of consumer confidence as the result of cyber-enabled issues are here to stay.

Staying Ahead of the Game – What You Can Do

Recent headlines may have some convinced that Facebook has simply had a bad bout of luck. A closer look at Facebook’s history details how this is not Zuckerberg’s first apology tour and there are no indicators it will be his last. Strikingly, the issue of privacy stretches all the way back to Facebook’s early years.

Big cases like this can help showcase the domino effect that can occur when companies do not adequately protect the information of their customers or users. More importantly, it illustrates the serious and consequential reality that executives may face in the midst of a crisis. The Facebook case also extends beyond the domain of user privacy and into the realm of U.S. national security.

[Insert Company Name Here] Data Breach

So how can you avoid being the next big headline? N2K can help. N2K’s Resolve Program is designed for those c-suite executives who have to make difficult decisions around the strategy and management of cyber risk. Bear in mind, you don’t have to be the size of Facebook to suffer from similar cyber pathologies.

The Resolve Program details the steps you can take to implement cybersecurity best practices and confidently manage cyber risk. Stay ahead of the game, and more importantly, out of the hot seat by making sure your board directors, officers, and other executives are proactively taking the necessary steps to address cyber risk.  While you’re at it, you might as well address your personal cyber risks to you or your family due to social media channels. We can help.