Has your Facebook data been leaked?

Like our very own tutor Luke, four out of five Aussies don’t trust FB with their data and they have very good reason not to (Rolfe, 2018). Do you?

Times have changed, there was a time when we used ‘Firewall’ for our digital security but now with the introduction of the ‘Cloud’ and social media platforms, we can never be quite sure about our online data security. This uncertainty does not only affect us individuals, but also companies who have set up their business handles on social platforms. Data frequently travels unprotected through social media channels & considering how much information people over share, social media can put data at serious risk of being leaked. Joseph Steinberg, CEO & founder of SecureMySocial, who created a cloud-based system which alerts users in real time if they are posting something inappropriate, says social media can “Provide hackers with information that greatly assists them in breaching organizations” (Johnson, 2016).

How is data leaked?

‘Personally, Identifiable Information’ (PII) is information which is used to differentiate or trace an individual’s identity either alone or in combination with other public information that is linked to a specific individual. The growth in identity theft, a.k.a, leaked data has given rise to concerns regarding unauthorized disclosure of PII, and who is to blame? Undoubtedly social networks (who are first party servers) who sell user personal information to third-parties (Krishnamurthy & Wills, 2010).

There has been an increase in the use of third party servers who curate content and advertisements for web pages belonging to first-party servers. Some of these third-party servers are aggregators who track and aggregate user viewing habits across different first-party servers often via tracking cookies. Third-party tracking servers are active on a number of popular online social networks and it has been found out that the penetration of the top 10 third-party servers across popular websites has grown from 40% in 2005 to 70% of 2008 (Krishnamurthy & Wills, 2010). We are now in 2018, so one can only imagine the amount of fold increase in these rates.

Facebook’s part when it comes to data leaks is a big one

We all know that Facebook’s core purpose when it started off was to create a platform where people could connect but now, it has ventured into a marketplace for organizations and marketing professionals and also regulators and governments of various nations are using it effectively to their use meaning that there an inclusion of data transfer of billions (Fatima, 2018).

Facebook asks us whether we want to share our information with third party apps that Facebook have tie-ups with and we all oblige. Well, we knowingly or unknowingly put ourselves at great risk.

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.15.21 pm.png

In 2010, Facebook announced the launch of a platform called ‘Open Graph’ to third-party apps which allowed external developers to reach out to Facebook users and seek permission to access a large chunk of their personal data and more importantly to access the data from their friend’s list too. This enabled Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge academic, to use his app ‘Thisisyourdigitallife’ to collect personal psychological data from millions of Facebook profiles.

In 2015, Cambridge Analytica a London based political & advertisement data analytics consultant helped Ted Cruz in his political campaign using the data of tens of millions of people from Facebook. In response, Facebook after learning about this, ‘sought’ to ban Kogan’s app and asked Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to remove all the data they had unethically acquired (Meredith, 2018). Recently, it was revealed and confirmed that 87 million people out of which 300,000 were Australian users (Bogle, 2018) were affected in this scandal which was used to influence and manipulate the elections.

How is Facebook making up for this?

Well, they can’t ‘make-up’ for this but it sure is a wake-up call for people. Mark Zuckerberg promises increased transparency with regards to apps and what information we share with them but at least for me, Facebook has lost its credibility and I for one will not be giving access to any app.

Now as promised, here is the link where you can check if your account was affected in the scandal: https://www.facebook.com/help/1873665312923476?ref=shareable


Bogle, A. (2018). Facebook privacy breach: How to check right now if Cambridge Analytica got your data. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-04-10/facebook-tool-check-if-cambridge-analytica-got-your-data/9639572

Fatima, H. (2018). Facebook’s Data Leak: How It Affects Users. Retrieved from https://blog.resellerclub.com/facebooks-data-leak-how-it-affects-users/

Johnson, C. (2016). How Social Media Jeopardizes Data Security. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/272459

Krishnamurthy, B., & Wills, C. (2010). On the leakage of personally identifiable information via online social networks. ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review40(1), 112.

Meredith, S. (2018). Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: A timeline of the data hijacking scandal. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/10/facebook-cambridge-analytica-a-timeline-of-the-data-hijacking-scandal.html

Rolfe, J. (2018). ‘Phenomenally low’ trust in Facebook among Aussies even before Cambridge Analytica. Retrieved from https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/low-level-of-trust-in-facebook-before-cambridge-analytica-scandal-survey-reveals/news-story/883f39687472f951cabfec71c3e64829


38 thoughts on “Has your Facebook data been leaked?

  1. I am using Facebook very often because I have an online shop using my personal Facebook. It is very upset to accept the fact that our private information is leaking. Thanks for your article, it helps me more careful about protecting my personal information in the social network.


  2. Interesting post! I agree that it can be unsecured revealing your personal information on social media. A huge number of companies have been researching and making money out of many of our private information (imagine applying for a job and knowing the boss was searching for your personal profile on Fb!) Facebook recently has an advertisement about making effort to protect the privacy of its user, you can now set your profile to be completely private (or delete posts as Luke does). But my question is, how sure are we that our information is now entirely safe?


  3. After the Cambridge Analytica incident Facebook told that they will take steps to make sure it does not happen again, primarily by ensuring app developers do not get as much access to users’ information, and promised to find where other breaches might have occurred. Even though its their basic responsibility to protect people’s data they failed about protecting it. Do you think government should protect this by introducing more serious laws and punish the companies who misuse the data?


  4. It’s funny how most people continue to use and overshare on social media especially with location details, despite all these facts that have come to the surface. Good to see bloggers talking about it and bringing attention towards these risks. More people need to do this.


  5. Undoubtedly, Facebook ‘security’ is a very scary thought because one can never be sure! However, it is important to be prudent about what personal information we are revealing — if you put it up, it can be taken. It’s as simple as that. Would you keep your wallet out on the street or in your cupboard?


  6. Great food for thought! The future is ONLINE & on-the-line. Its already happening and time will come when EVERYTHING will be on the web. So we need to learn how to protect and what to reveal. ‘Get Smart’ is the motto.


  7. Regardless of whether people give out where they are and where they’re going, it is the responsibility of Facebook to protect its users, which they’ve completely slacked in. There is no excuse. Facebook is all talk no action.


  8. People overshare all the time on Snapchat, why hasn’t it received as much negative talk? Because they’re smart with their combo of disappearing posts, sharing location options, story options, muting those you don’t like, private/personal profile, etc. Facebook needs to evolve, not add more features.


  9. Well, what do you think will happen when people are lazy about their privacy settings and find a need to post about every single thing that pops up in their life.


  10. I see a lot about how users are negligent about securing their account, oversharing, etc. but what is not understood is that many of the users just aren’t as “smart”. They’ve probably just signed up to be part of the herd or keep up with friends and family, not knowing about the risks involved. And surely, they’re behaving this way across all platforms and will always be at risk. They need to be educated.


  11. In this new age where all platforms have the options of being connected to each other, I don’t think Facebook is the only problem. If it affects one, it affects all and most probably will affect much more area on ones life.


  12. My mother loves Facebook?! I have warned her not to trust it. I hope she believes me now after reading your Article (I forwarded it to her).


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