It's All Said and Done
The most recent personal data scandal came in the form of Facebook's dealings with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook sold a database of user information to Cambridge Analytica, which was then allegedly used to create targeted adverts. The adverts in question aimed to persuade the viewer to cast their vote towards Donald Trump, attempting to sway the outcome of the 2016 U.S presidential election.
Cambridge Analytica insist that they have done nothing wrong, but many believe otherwise. The majority of Cambridge Analytica skeptics are those who are against Donald Trump or those who supported Hillary Clinton in the election. This is understandable and they have a reason to be upset if Cambridge Analytica truly did have a hand in manipulating the vote. However, an advert campaign isn't a delegitimate way to persuade voters. It is a method that is seen year after year, during every type of vote/election across the globe. What makes Cambridge Analytica's advertising different is the fact that they were digital advertisements and not your common campaign poster.
Facebook, on the other hand, will have no doubt that they have found themselves amidst the controversy. Shortly after the news was released that they had been selling user data, accounts were being deleted and hashtags were trending on Twitter (which I still believe is very ironic). This incident has reminded people how vulnerable they can be whilst using the internet if they are not careful and has forced a great deal of users to turn their back on Facebook and condemn Mark Zuckerberg for these actions. It has even provoked senior officials to publicly announce that they believe that, with all of this information, Zuckerberg is in a position of too much power.
You Could be a Victim!
Reports have revealed that over 87 million Facebook users have had their personal information mishandled. With 2.2 billion active users per month, roughly 1 in every 25 users will be a victim of Facebook's improper obtainment and use of personal data.
Even if you are not a victim of this scandal, Facebook is currently using your personal information and browsing habits to build a profile of you. This isn't a secret and you can take a look at the profile that Facebook is building of you for yourself. To see this page, simply use the following link: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/edit/. Once you arrive at the linked page, click Your Information, then Your Categories. Here you can see all of the categories that Facebook has placed you in based on what you are interested in and what personal data you have given them.
This use of personal information isn't very malicious at all, it is mainly used to determine the type of adverts that will appeal to you. However, it is an indication of what social network sites, such as Facebook, can know about you without you explicitly telling them.
The Dreaded Notification
Over the past few days, Facebook stated that they would notify every user that has had their personal information misused. This notification began with the words: "...we understand the importance of keeping your data safe...", which is most definitely not believable after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
As I have said in an earlier article, I will not be deleting my Facebook account. I am careful with the amount of information that I provide to social networking platforms and feel that I am not in a position to be abused. Although, I can completely understand why some people would be perplexed to have received this notification.
Being careful is what it boils down to. As long as you don't have your entire personal profile on Facebook (or any other social network for that matter), you should be safe from harm. If you feel as though deleting your Facebook account is the right step, go ahead. As long as it puts your mind at ease, it's for the best. However, if your Facebook account has existed at all, the damage may already be done. It is difficult to know if Facebook keeps user data after account deletion, but it wouldn't surprise me. If this is the case, deleting your account will not change what Facebook knows about you but it may prevent Facebook from broadening its knowledge of you.
Conclusion: Read the Terms and Conditions
To conclude, I would give one piece of advice: read the terms and conditions. It is almost guaranteed that upon agreeing to Facebook's terms and conditions, you are agreeing to allow Facebook to harvest and use your personal information.
Understandably, it isn't desirable to read through multiple pages of terms and conditions but if you are that worried about your data, you have to do it. A full read of terms and conditions will allow you to make judgment on whether or not opening a social networking account is the right thing for you.
Sometimes we have to do things that seem a little tedious to protect ourselves and our personal information.
Benjamin McQuaid (author) from England, United Kingdom on April 12, 2018:
Thank you very much for your kind words, I really appreciate the positive feedback. I still have much to learn as a 20-year-old, but I do all that I can to improve my use of the English language with each article that I write.
It seems that you and I are on the same page regarding a lot of issues, as you have just described exactly how I feel about the US election. Those on the losing side are scraping the barrel for excuses and, quite frankly, it's a little embarrassing. As you have mentioned, within the space of a couple of weeks, both the Russian and Facebook have been behind Trump's election into the White House - very strange accusations if you ask me.
I have to say, I never really though about the adverts in the way that you have just described. Like you, I see tons of adverts each day but manage to resist them, just like many others. So (you make a very valid point), what would cause people to react any differently to adverts that tell them to support Donald Trump?
Once again, thanks for the feedback Leland, I really do like reading what others have to say on topics that I feel strongly about and I will make sure to keep writing!
Leland Johnson from Midland MI on April 11, 2018:
Benjamin- You really are a gifted writer. I say that because you write like someone older than you appear in your picture (unless you're actually 50 years old and you've posted a photo from your early 20's).
Regarding the misappropriation of personal information. I doubt that anyone voted for President Trump due to an advert. I think it would be terribly naïve to believe otherwise. I receive adverts daily from companies selling me everything from mountain bikes to food choppers and yet, somehow, I am able to resist. Surely no reasonable person would vote for a presidential candidate due to an advert. I think the more likely culprit is the retinue of those who are angry over Hillary Clinton losing the election. They try to conjure every reason imaginable for her loss and cannot come to accept that the American people simply did not want her. "It's the Russians, it's Facebook" anything except what it was. We didn't want Hillary Clinton. She defended a rapist and was able to exonerate him (and laughed about it in a recorded interview- you can listen to it online) knowing he was guilty of raping a 13 year old child. Also, her actions regarding the Benghazi slaughter kept her out of the White House. "What difference does it make how they died," she said referring to the American CIA guards that died in the Benghazi attacks. It wasn't the Russians. It wasn't Zuckerberg. Hillary lost the election because of who she is.
*Donald Trump actually warned the public that the Russians were tampering with polling 2 weeks prior to the election and President Obama said, "Trump needs to quit whining and start campaigning." You can find that on the net. Why aren't people talking about that? The media at large wants us to believe Trump stole the election. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hillary lost. that's all. Keep writing my friend. I look forward to reading more of your work.