You may have noticed that Facebook logged you out on Tuesday, requiring you to sign in before you could start scrolling through your feeds. That’s because on Sept. 25, another breach of security occurred to the online giant. This breach follows the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year in which 87 million people had their information stolen. This breach affected 50 million as of Oct. 3. These multiple, massive breaches in short succession brings one primary question to mind: Should we trust Facebook with our information? I say no. Clearly, Facebook has a near stranglehold on our online identities, the amount of data they have is dangerous in the wrong hands and they don’t care about the people in their community.
Every website you visit, every advertisement you click on, everything you do online, Facebook knows and records. Many of you may have signed up for different online services such as Spotify, Airbnb, Instagram and others. You might have created an account with these services by entering your name, email and password. But more likely, you used an option such as “log in with Facebook.” Due to the nature of the security exploit, the hackers were able to access the data from these services as well. This gives credence to Facebook having a much larger control of our online identities — and lives — than we may have realized. That information makes Facebook dangerous.
As established, Facebook’s security protocol is not perfect. There are areas open for malicious hackers to get your data. You may ask, “So what? My data has no value.” That’s where you are wrong. The Cambridge Analytica breach showed us that data can be used to target and manipulate us, our offline ideas and beliefs. That seems far-fetched though, and clearly nobody like yourself could be persuaded so easily. Nonetheless, real harm can still be done. Information like your mother’s maiden name, date of birth or city you were born in could all be answers to security questions you set up for your bank or other accounts. Additionally, if you use the same password for other web accounts you have, they can access those accounts. The potential harm that can be done from accessing your Facebook data is only limited by the creativity of the person stealing it.
Facebook could potentially be fined $1.6 billion for this negligence under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. I think they deserve it. The reason Facebook is free is because you are the product. Facebook acts as a marketplace for businesses to buy advertisements that are directed at you, and that is how they make money. When an advertiser wants to send out an ad, they can pick and choose what demographics of people they want to reach; I tried it out to see what it is like. They only know who is in these demographics because of they data they collect from you. When Facebook allows breaches like these to happen, they treat us as disposable, mere cattle. Unless we let Facebook know that we don’t need them, they will continue to keep security low on their priority list. I wouldn’t work for a business or be a part of a community that doesn’t care about me. We need to let Facebook know that our information and identities matter more.