Social Media and Its Impact on the World

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Social Media and Data Protection

Social media is one of the most popular platforms used by a large percentage of people in the world, and Facebook happens to be the leading social media platform in terms of users. With more than 2.2 billion users, Facebook faces a daunting task of ensuring that data of its customers is protected because information is such a powerful thing that when it lands into wrong hands, it can be destructive (Sahni et al. 74).

Technology companies such as Facebook have a lot of power in their hands because they have access to customers’ information regarding their personal lives, political affiliations, choices and preferences since people are not afraid to share anything on their social media platforms. To ensure the safety of customers' data, it is important for these technology companies to adopt stringent privacy protection policies that give assurance to customers even as they use their social media (Richter et al. 113). Facebook has been known to protect its customer’s information, but the recent case scenario where Cambridge Analytica used personal information of Facebook users for commercial purposes raises many questions about the safety of data.

Do Recent Events Raise Issues about Information Protection of Facebook Users?

The recent happenings involving Cambridge Analytica raises pertinent questions about the credibility of Facebook's customer information privacy. It is important to remember that issues have been raised in the past regarding technology companies using user information for commercial purposes without consent from the customers. Most of the technology companies do not exclusively disclose their policies on consumer data protection and the measures that they have put in place to make sure that illegible people do not access this information (Park 234). The case of Analytica is just one of the many cases that have come into the limelight, but there could be a possibility that there are several other scenarios where customers’ information has landed in wrong hands (Sahni et al. 58).

Do Recent Events Raise Issues about Facebook’s Policies?

There are so many questions that can be asked regarding Facebook’s data protection policies. First, Facebook does not disclose whether users have any control regarding usage of their data for advertisement. Facebook makes billions of dollars in terms of revenues through advertisement, but the users do not have any idea on how the advertisements are controlled, even though it is customers’ information that is being commercialized (Tucker et al. 553). Facebook does not indicate whether in any way it plans to give users more power to control how their data is shared. The settings that users can change on the Facebook platform are turned on by default which slightly restricts users to change them by themselves.

The data privacy policies by Facebook do not provide any form of additional transparency requirements for some advertisers, for instance, political advertisers and propagandists. Politics is one thorny issue that is known to raise tension among people, and there are some users who completely never want to participate in politics and propaganda (Fuchs 141). When Facebook shares users’ information with such firms dealing with the political advertisement, and the firms spread propaganda to users, it goes against the rights of these people. It is important for Facebook to demand additional transparency from advertisers on what they can and cannot do with user information.

Are There Issues about Procedures?

There are questions regarding procedures of Facebook when it comes to users deleting their accounts. When an individual wishes to quit Facebook platform and decides to delete the account forever so that all the data is removed it is not always addressed. Facebook demands that an individual fills a form to request for account deletion which is tedious, and there is no guarantee that all the information of the user is completely deleted. Furthermore, the deletion request form is not available to Facebook apps. Facebook does not have a centralized policy center where users can launch their complaints when their privacy is invaded. The company does not have an all-inclusive model for data protection which means different stakeholders, such as privacy experts, policymakers, and people are not involved in setting up the policy center. More so, there is no an elaborate procedure of reporting and handling cases of data leakage. There were no clear documented steps that Facebook should take in case an advertiser violates the privacy policy (Livraga et al.124).

What Has Facebook Done to Protect User Information?

Through control of users’ data, Facebook can regulate which information is shared on the platform by the users. Facebook has numerous settings on its platform which allows the users to exercise some privacy while sharing their information. For instance, users decide who should view their posts and sometimes allow people to comment or not on their post which is ideal for most users (O'Neil et al. 39). Furthermore, Facebook prompts users through reminders on newsfeeds to double check their settings to make sure they are updated and correct.

Facebook also ensures user data privacy through transparency practices by disclosing how data is used. The company also discloses how users' data is processed when an individual signs up the agreement to become a user. Also, Facebook sends reminders to users on any alerts of fraudulent activities that other people might be experiencing, thus ensuring vigilance. The reminders comprise of consumer education campaigns and product notification (Park 234).

Accountability is another means through which data privacy of consumers is achieved by Facebook. The privacy practices of the Company and compliance program are always updated through proper documentation and making them available to the general public. Facebook also seeks feedback from numerous stakeholders around the world which enables them to make friendlier policies.

What Needs to Possibly Change?

First, Facebook needs to change and begin posting its privacy policies and principles. The company should voluntarily post the privacy principles without compulsion because they hold a lot of user data, and people have a right to know about it (Livraga et al. 227). Facebook should disclose every information on which data is shared to advertisers because the company makes some huge profits using their personal data.

Measures should be introduced by Facebook to give users more control over what information on their profiles should be accessed by third parties. Third-party applications or website should only access information that Facebook users permit them to. The restriction should also be extended to access of friends’ information which currently Facebook has not spelt out.

Lastly, Facebook needs to diversify and move away from advertisement as the main source of revenue because the desire to increase traffic for ads is the main reason why data privacy has been invaded (Tuten et al. 57). Having open profile information for Facebook users is the best way to increase traffic, but other products such as Facebook credits can be a greater source of revenue.

Works Cited

Fuchs, Christian. "The political economy of privacy on Facebook." Television & New Media 13.2 (2012): 139-159.

Livraga, Giovanni, and Sencun Zhu. Data and Applications Security and Privacy Xxxi: 31st Annual Ifip Wg 11.3 Conference, Dbsec 2017, Philadelphia, Pa, USA, July 19-21, 2017, Proceedings. , 2017.

O'neil, Edward Kenneth, Vladimir Fedorov, and Tirunelveli R. Vishwanath. "Techniques for in-app user data authorization." U.S. Patent No. 9,760,723. 12 Sep. 2017.

Park, Yong Jin. "Digital literacy and privacy behavior online." Communication Research 40.2 (2013): 215-236.

Richter, Michael Judd, Matthew William Kelly, and Austin Haugen. "Browser with integrated privacy controls and dashboard for social network data." U.S. Patent No. 9,710,765. 18 Jul. 2017.

Sahni, Sanjeev P, and Garima Jain. Internet Infidelity: An Interdisciplinary Insight in a Global Context. , 2018.

Tucker, Catherine E. "Social networks, personalized advertising, and privacy controls." Journal of Marketing Research 51.5 (2014): 546-562.

Tuten, Tracy L., and Michael R. Solomon. Social media marketing. Sage, 2017.

August 21, 2023




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