Privacy Matters in a World That is No Longer Private

Cyber Security, High Technology, Social Media, Technology Posted Aug 2, 2019 by Shannon Kelley

With chatter surrounding Facebook’s security and privacy data use issues, I’m sure there have been some conflicting feelings about whether or not you let go of your online identity. However, you and I both know you’re probably not going to do that. It’s okay, we don’t blame you.

Social media has become an increasingly desirable alternative universe to live through. It can connect us to billions of people each day and yet, while there are benefits to having that, there are also issues that tend to go unnoticed: security, privacy and data protection. Luckily, I’m here to give you some guidance!

Being the most widely used social media platform across the globe, Facebook has built a communication empire where pages and groups have become the “go-to” for websites, companies, and organizations. By owning Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook leads in online posts and communication, often replacing the once popular method of calls, texts, and email. However, users are so quick to trust these outlets because of their popularity that they forget how easily they can be taken advantage of.

If you haven’t seen it all over the news yet, Facebook was recently fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for misusing their privacy settings. They took phone numbers from accounts (which should only be used for security purposes) and used them to target advertisements. One other key issue is their facial recognition feature. With 2.5 billion monthly users uploading hundreds of millions of photos a day, Facebook has developed the largest and most accurate database of faces. If a breach were to happen with any other source of sensitive data points, such as a credit card, that information can easily be changed. But let’s face it (no pun intended), you can’t change your face!

While Facebook is not the only company to use these features (other high-tech companies like Apple are using facial recognition to unlock iPhones) regulations are arising in an attempt to catch up to speed with these new types of technologies. Europe has come out with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has caused other big companies, such as Marriott, to pay heavy fines as well. To help ease some of the concerns surrounding your privacy (there are regulations set in place to protect you), I’ve listed out a few tips to help you to proactively protect your data in accordance to Facebook.

Don’t Give Your Phone Number:

While two-factor authentication (2FA) is great and a pivotal tool in cybersecurity, Facebook has been known to use phone numbers for ad targeting and user profile lookups. There is a way to use 2FA without handing out your phone number which I will get to in the next tip. Now, if you have already given your phone number, unfortunately, the company still has access to it unless you delete your account. However, deleting it from your profile will save you from other cyber criminals who may use it for identity theft. In case you want to get rid of this, there are multiple places you must do this: in settings under security and login (both on your computer and on other mobile devices), your contact info page, and the about section on your profile.

Turn On Two-Factor Authentication:

Rather than using your phone number, Apple offers free authentication apps that will generate login codes for Facebook. These apps are compatible with Facebook and will allow you to choose which one you want to use under the 2FA page in settings. While these apps are compatible with Facebook, they do not give data access to the social media site. One other provider you might want to consider is Duo, the 2FA founding father! They use asymmetric cryptography which keeps only the public key on their servers and stores private keys on your devices securely. What makes Duo so great compared to others is that they will never store your passwords. Your logins will always remain safe.

Turn Off Face Recognition:

Facebook claims that their facial recognition features are not on by default. However, this was debunked when they were fined by the FTC. The point is to make it easier to tag someone in photos and videos, but this puts your detailed features into a database in the hands of a big tech agent – is that something you really want? To turn off this feature, simply select “no” in face recognition under settings.

Let Go of Location Tracking:

Facebook and any app that Facebook owns may be tracking your location at all times. Ever wonder why random ads of that cute boutique you just walked past yesterday with that really cute pair of shoes you wanted keep popping up on your feed? This is why! Companies pay for social site advertising, like Facebook, for geo tracking. This allows the company or business to set up a radius and if you step anywhere in that radius, you become their next target audience. This can be an easy and quick fix under your privacy settings in location services.

Remove Any Apps Connected with Your Account:

Any apps used through Facebook gives them access to all information you provide. For example, many people sign into Spotify using their Facebook account. Spotify requires credit card information that could potentially be leaked to Facebook because you are utilizing them as a login method. To disconnect this feature, just go to apps and websites under settings and turn off the apps you don’t want Facebook to use. To prevent yourself from making this same mistake in the future, you can turn off this capability on the same page in settings.

These recommendations may have given you a better understanding about what cybersecurity is and what it does for your security, privacy, and data protection. It is always important to make sure that the information you keep online is secure and protected from the public. We are no longer living in a world that is private, which makes privacy that much more relevant and important.