In the last 10 years, the use of internet has drawn a new light on the question of privacy. New boundaries have been set for what defines privacy on the internet, however, these lines are still quite burly. Whenever we sign up for a new free service, such as Facebook or Google, we are signing over rights to some levels of privacy. We are essentially trading the information we provide via likes, comments, shares and searches in exchange for use of their free service.

With the unfolding of the Facebook data scandal, the question of data privacy online is rotating through the news.

You may not be surprised to read that Facebook has been selling data to Cambridge Analytica, a private data company. You may have trusted Facebook with your data and now feel betrayed that it’s been used for this purpose. The idea of our data being shared like that can be a little overwhelming. Deciding what is ethical and what isn’t and how you feel about privacy is difficult. Especially if you don’t know too much about all the nitty gritty of it. So, let’s get the facts straight and dive into what the Facebook data scandal is and how it may challenge the question of privacy.

firstly, what exactly is the facebook data scandal?

In the last week, the Facebook data scandal has blown up across news platforms. The story reports that 50 million Facebook users’ data was sold to Cambridge Analytica where it was used to construct marketing campaigns for the Trump presidency.

The breaking of the Facebook privacy scandal points to the philosophy of data usage that is at the heart of free services, like Facebook and Google. The data we produce on social media is a rich source of opportunity for companies. The issue of difference with this scandal is that the Cambridge Analytica used this data to advertise a political campaign, not a product or service. The company purchased the data from a third-party source that was not authorized to sell Facebook data. So, the scandal poses a question about trust: whether we can trust Facebook with our data and trust them to protect our privacy.

As a result of the scandal, Facebook’s shares have dropped massively on Wall Street, showcasing a decrease in public trust.

what is privacy?

Recently, the lines of privacy have been blurred by the internet. It has become a question of ‘do we want companies knowing that we have a taste for organic chai tea and utilise that information to market as hundreds of tea brands?’.

Information privacy is the right to control your own personal information. This right is distorted when we are actively participating online. Personal information is defined by the Australian Government as an opinion relating to a person whose identity is apparent.

There are laws and boundaries put in place to protect our privacy in the real world and online. However, sometimes companies break the boundaries, and that’s when consumer and company trust is broken.

Currently, Facebook is suffering this breakdown of the relationship with their users. Technically, they didn’t do anything illegal, as all users have signed a Terms of Conditions agreement. However, users are questioning whether it’s ethical. And if it is unethical, how is the problem fixed?

Let’s take a look at differential privacy and see how it differs from the privacy policies that are currently in play.

what is differential privacy?

Yes, privacy on the internet has become so far-reaching that we have created a new term for it! Differential privacy allows tech companies to collect and share data about user habits. Differential privacy also endeavours to retain the privacy of individual users. This type of privacy online disconnects data from individuals. Furthermore, your data is lumped into a group of 150 people and the results of the analysis might indicate that 100 people preferred a different type of salad, for example. The company knows that 100 people preferred salad, but not who those people are.

Differential privacy is a solution to the issue of trespassing on privacy for users and gives companies a way to utilise data for profit, legally.

the question of ethical data use

In light of the Facebook data scandal, we are now questioning whether we can trust Facebook to ethically use our data. Therefore, it also poses the question of what is ethical data usage? Where is the line between using data to advertise products and using data to help elect members of parliament?

It may seem frightening, the idea that Facebook has access to your data and can give it to the highest bidder. However, sometimes this can work to our benefit. When it comes to selling products, your data is a snapshot of whether or not a company should promote their product to you.

In this sense, it’s beneficial to both parties, including the consumer and company. You have easy access to products and services you may not have discovered otherwise. Many services and products we use are tracking our decisions online, what we are searching and what we like. Services like Netflix and Spotify give us recommendations based on what we have previously watched or listened to.

Let’s take a look out how data is used by these companies to help you get a better understanding of exactly how your data is used.

data analytics

Researchers like Cambridge Analytica are not the only companies who purchase data from Facebook or Google. Marketing organisations apply the same strategy to analyse who they should market their product to and how. You may be hesitant about companies having access to your data, however, mostly it’s for your benefit and it’s generally not personal information. Simply information such as what you are searching or what you are clicking on. From this data, marketing companies will predict your personality and market products accordingly. So, maybe the latest dress you bought online was because of a Facebook ad or a Google search you did. A lot of the time, data is used to connect you with products you need.

how companies keep you up to date on privacy policies

You can find a company’s privacy agreement in the Terms and Conditions. Each time their privacy policy is updated you’ll receive a notification. Here are notable examples of privacy policies from companies you interact with on a daily basis:

  • Google : Google keeps the right to retain all search history and use it for future services
  • Youtube: Youtube owns everything users post. Deleting a comment or video from Youtube does not delete it from Youtube’s server
  • Facebook: Allows Facebook to track user activity on other websites and automatic sharing of data users publish on the site with third party organisations.
  • Netflix : Netflix reserves the right to disclose user information without notice.

To use all these platforms you must agree to their terms and conditions. So, before signing up to a new platform, check their privacy terms and evaluate whether you are comfortable with the level of privacy.

how to protect your information

So, when it comes to privacy, Facebook doesn’t illegally access your data. You give them permission via the Facebook privacy settings. If Facebook having access to your data is uncomfortable for you, then head over to your Facebook privacy settings and change them. Here is an 8 step guide to change your privacy settings:

step one: change your profile privacy

You may have already set your profile privacy to friends only, but, if you haven’t, here’s how you can. Head to settings, and click on the Privacy tab. From there, you can select who can see your posts. Select from Public, Friends, Only Me or Custom.

step two: change your audience

The next step in securing your privacy on Facebook is to change the audience of your old posts. Furthermore, changing your profile privacy doesn’t affect past posts, only new ones. Head to the Privacy tab again, click on Limit Past Posts and then select the Limit Old Posts and press confirm.

step three: hide yourself on facebook

Do you ever receive a friend request from people you’ve never met, nor have any mutual friends with? If so, you can stop this from happening by limiting the visibility of your Facebook page. In the Privacy tab, head to the ‘who can send you a friend request’ section and select Friends of Friends.

However, if you’re joining a new group or starting a new job, your new friends/co-workers will not be able to find your page, so just remember to disable it if you want them to add you.

step four: control who can see your timeline

To limit who can see what on your Facebook timeline, head to the settings tab and click on timelines and tagging to edit things such as “who can post on your timeline?” or “Who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline?”

step five: how to block people

If you’re receiving messages from someone you don’t want to hear from, or they are commenting inappropriate or abusive messages on your profile, you can block them. To block someone head to Settings and click on Block. Type in their name or email address and click block.

If you have been a victim of cyberbullying and abusive and need help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

step six: enable tag review

A new feature enabled on Facebook to help protect your privacy is Tag Review. Enabling tag review will give you the power to review posts you’re tagged in before they appear on your timeline. To enable Tag Review head to the Timeline and Tagging tab in settings and enable the feature.

step seven: see which apps can access to your facebook

When you log into a new app with your Facebook account, you are giving that app access to your information you publish on Facebook. To limit who sees your data, clean out the apps you no longer use. If you don’t want to log in to other apps with your Facebook, simply turn Platform off.

step eight: alter ad preferences

By heading to Settings and Adverts you can alter your ad preferences. Facebook constructs a list of things you are interested in and tailors ads to those preferences. Play around with your ad preferences if you are seeing things you’re not interested.

So, those are the simple steps you can take to protect your privacy and your data. Facebook does give you the option to alter your privacy settings and you customise who can legally see what on your Facebook. So, that’s good news!

nifty and privacy

Nifty loans takes privacy and the safety of our client’s information seriously. Our is 100% online, so we dedicate a lot of resources to keep your information safe. We care about the privacy of our users because we are users of other companies and we would demand the same respect. Our quick personal loans are safe, smart and secure. We protect any information you provide on our fast loans application.  When it comes to sharing your information this is our standard policy:

We may use your personal information that we collect to contact you about our products and services where you have consented for us to do so.

Nifty commits time and energy to help retain your privacy and only releasing information to other parties when you consent it to.

we want to hear your thoughts

To protect our data, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are enforcing their policies that enable third-party applications to share our data. But, we want to hear your thoughts! How do you feel about the Facebook scandal? Do you trust Facebook with your information and the ability to protect your privacy?

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