All eyes are on Facebook at the moment as it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica a third-party company exploited loopholes in Facebook’s platform to obtain as much as 87 million Facebook users information through some fake survey application.
While this is a terrifying situation knowing that such a large amount of data was harvested, can we honestly say that we are really surprised something like this has happened?
Facebook isn’t alone
It’s easy to blame Facebook, they’re the biggest social network and they know a lot about us, but they’re not the only online company with a trove of information.
Are we really naive to believe that Apple, Google, Amazon and numerous advertising platforms don’t have the same level of data (if not more) than what Facebook has? Can we honestly say that we know what data these other companies have and of whom they provide access to?
We knowingly give up so much about ourselves, all so Google can tell us how long it will take to get somewhere in Google Maps or so Siri and Google Assistant can tell us funny jokes.
We go out and buy Amazon Echo’s, Google Home’s and Apple Siri Speakers and let them listen to our every word. We knowingly allow companies like Google to track our search history, our viewing history on YouTube.
I can’t help but feel as though Facebook is being used a scapegoat here, if only US senators held other companies and themselves as accountable for data, and acted more harshly when a company is hacked and user information is leaked.
What happened with Facebook is inexcusable and alarming, but we’re focusing on one part of the problem here. There is more to the privacy puzzle than Facebook, let’s get serious about privacy and equally question all large companies with access to a lot of our data.
In 2017 arguably one of the largest data breaches so far was when Equifax was hacked, exposing 147.9 million Americans, as well as some Canadian and British nationals information including; drivers licence numbers, social security numbers, tax identification numbers, email addresses (issue dates and states).
And worse of all, it took Equifax four months to report the hack. For four months, information on over one hundred million people was circulating dark parts of the web. Unacceptable.
Not only was the hack bad and failure to disclose it in a timely manner, but Equifax routinely botched its reporting on the hack, failing to disclose more information than they had led on was taken, and revising the number of affected people a couple of times.
Did Equifax get paraded in US Congress and grilled by senators for their recklessness like Mark Zuckerberg? No. Did Equifax get threatened with further legislation and regulation, or maybe a fine? Nope.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (tasked with protecting consumers) who was investigating the incident stopped investigating Equifax after a change in leadership.
To put that into perspective, Facebook users had some of their information harvested (their likes, interests and so on) but nothing that could be used to steal your identity or understand your financial position, but Equifax exposes some seriously private details and nothing happens.
Russia. Russia. Russia.
This whole situation reeks of a strong agenda, like an aged cheese or infected toe and it’s called Russia.
You see, Russia is a hot topic at the moment. This whole situation isn’t about privacy, US senators don’t care about your Facebook likes and friends list being harvested.
But you throw Russia into the mix and say the data was used to manipulate the 2016 election and all of a sudden it becomes more interesting and appealing, it’s a scandal now and scandals are great to push an agenda.
We can slap the handcuffs on Facebook all we want, but you know and I know that Facebook isn’t the only company that has information about you and isn’t forthcoming with how it is used or accessed.
We just witnessed a small-scale atomic data explosion, I am sure we are going to see privacy explosions on the same scale, if not bigger.