With the recent scandal of companies that abuse users’ Facebook data, privacy is once again being talked about.
But pointing fingers at Facebook is not only wrong but irresponsible because it’s not the culprit. We have to take that same finger and put it on the wound and assume that it is the fault of the users.
When we talk about the use of our personal data on Facebook, there are actually 4 players involved: the users, the creators of the applications, the advertisers, and Facebook (which puts the other 3 parties in touch).
To say that Facebook is to blame for abuse of user data is like blaming a telephone operator for one customer harassing another over the phone. It does not make sense and dispels the discussion of the real responsible ones.
So, after all, when we use Facebook, what happens to our data?
Well, first of all, everything we put about us on social networks is our sole responsibility. No one forces us to publish anything or tell anyone anything.
However, in social networks we do things we would never do in “real” life. We would never get into conversations with other people on the street, we would never get on the phone to tell all our friends what we had lunch, we would never go to the window to scream that we will leave the house empty during the holidays, we would never go to the esplanade to distribute photographs of the our children in bikinis. However, all this and much more we do in social networks which, by definition, are “social”, therefore, public, open, community.
So everything that we put there, all the information about us and our life, ceases to belong to us forever at the moment we publish them, and belongs to the community which, realistically, does not only cover our friends, but the entire planet.
Now, if we limit ourselves to publishing information on Facebook itself, only 2 classes of stakeholders have access to our information: other users (friends, friends of friends); the Facebook advertisers. But contrary to what you may think, advertisers do not really have access to our data, they can only tell Facebook that they only want an ad to appear to users with certain characteristics or interests, but it’s only in one sense, advertisers establish “filters”, but do not receive back user information. And that’s also where Facebook’s responsibility for managing our data ends.
So how do you talk about data that went to “profiling” companies, companies that had access to the data of millions of users? Who gave you these data?
As I answered at the beginning of this article, the answer is simple: the users themselves. But how?
Facebook, in addition to serving as a social network, has other 2 values that users use and abuse without even thinking about the consequences.
First, the “applications” within Facebook. Each time they play a game on Facebook, or “install” an application on Facebook, they determine that the creators of this application will have access to your Facebook data, which may be private data, your friends list, your tastes, your photos, etc. When they are dying to know what “your” name means, what “celebrity” they look like, what your job is in a “past life”, and give permission for these applications to have access to your data, who is clicking on the button? Is it Facebook or is it you? When you authorize one of these applications, Facebook fulfills your role as data keeper and tells you what data you are about to provide to those entities. When they do, stop to wonder if they are willing to provide this data, or give and you ready? It is that they can either be giving them to a legitimate company with a sense of ethics, or to a mafioso who, immediately, will sell your data to third parties.
Second, Facebook allows any website to use Facebook for the user to log in to that site. Who ever logged into a Facebook user site instead of bothering to lose 2 minutes in the registration process? Now, to save these 2 minutes of work, so you do not have to save another password, enter with your Facebook data and, admire, are giving the owners of this site access to your Facebook data. Again, who made the decision to provide your data was you, not Facebook. And neither did these companies do anything illegal because they asked if they could have access to your data and you said yes.
Now, we are not writing this article to look for guilty but rather solutions.
If you do not want your personal data to circulate on the Internet and manipulate the information that comes to you, you steal your identity, blackmail, or even rob you of the home, consider how important it is for your safety and your family, and steps to mitigate these risks:
1st – Publish less things online. Is it really necessary to tell the world what you had lunch, where you spent the afternoon, or what you think about Donald Trump? We all do more or less the same things. You will not be less than the others if you do not tell what you do and what you think. Enjoy the experiences on your own without thinking about how you’re going to post them. And if you really want to talk to someone about your opinions, do so in person at a dinner party with a group of close friends who are really interested in your opinions, not your Facebook friends.
2nd – Do not publish anything that you would not feel comfortable telling or showing to a stranger on the street. By posting to the Internet (even if you think you are limiting your friends) . Do not show pictures of your children, do not tell them you’re not at home or where you live, do not get into conflict with other online people. Would you do any of these things on the street?
3rd – Do not authorize the applications that appear in front of you. Do not know who is behind, or what will happen to your data. Do you really need to know what you did in a past life? Go to an astrologer. Want to know what celebrity looks like? Google it. Do not believe any of this? So why give your personal data in exchange for a joke without any meaning?
4th – Review applications that have access to your data. On your Facebook, go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications and review the list of all the sites that appear because they are the ones to whom you gave access to your data. If it is not an indispensable application / website and a credible entity in the market, delete it from the list and do not give it access again. They have already got some of your data, but at least they will not get more.
5th – Make a registration and login with different password for each site you register. If you need to use a site that requires registration and give you the possibility to avoid registration by entering your login Facebook or Google, dispense this “facility” and lose 2 minutes to register with your email and creating a password for that site. Thus, it guarantees two things: that this site will not access any of your data in those networks, and that if the owner of the site is not ethical, you will not be able to use your password to enter your email or other sites where you are registered. If you find it difficult to manage all the passwords of the sites on which you register, use a password manager such as https://keepass.info/download.html
6th – When in doubt, say no. Whenever you get a window asking for your Facebook or Google data, if you are not sure where this window comes from, or who you are your data, say no! Do not worry, because if you really need to enter this site you will have the opportunity to do so, but in a conscious way.
Take care of your data. Take care of yourself!
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