The internet and its increased adoption by people all over the world and the growing influence of social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are redefining the way people get in touch with each other. They are great fun and can be advantageous in many ways. However, people really need to understand that it’s a complicated world and must step wisely. The growing use of social networking opened the door to the misuse of personal information via identity theft, cyberstalking, content-based image retrieval, privacy invasion, and more.
Facebook, the social networking giant recently suspended 200 apps in its first stage of review into apps that had access to a huge amount of user data. The move was made in response to a scandal around Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm.
Facebook was struck by the privacy scandal in March 2018 after it was reported that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data on up to 87 million Facebook users without their explicit consent. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook announced that the investigation began in March itself and since then they looked into thousands of apps and suspended 200 of them.
Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships said that the apps were suspended pending a rigorous investigation into whether services on Cambridge Analytica had improperly used or gathered users’ any personal data.
For the apps which raise concerns, Facebook plans to conduct interviews, seek information about them and the data they accessed, and carry out audits that may include on-site inspections. In case the company finds any apps that misused data, they will be banned, and users would be informed about this on Facebook’s site. Users can also know if Cambridge Analytica had access to their data. Archibong said, “There is a lot more work to be done to find all the apps that may have misused people’s Facebook data – and it will take time. We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible.”
As a direct response to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Facebook recently launched a bounty program that rewards people who find and report any data misuse by app developers on its platforms. A first of its kind in the market, the program provides financial payouts to anyone who reports genuine cases of data collection that go against Facebook’s data policies. The company said that the payouts could go as high as $40,000, depending on the impact of each report, though there are no specific limitations set. Following the submission of a report, Facebook’s bug and data abuse bounty team would work to determine credible reports, shut down undesired apps, and take legal action against the company that’s buying or selling the data if the need arises.
In the end, the only tried and tested solution to social network privacy problems is to limit one’s presence altogether. The harm to a user finally depends on how much he/she engages in a social networking site and the amount of information he/she shares.