This weekend, The New York Times and The Observer of London reported that Cambridge Analytica, a political data-mining and consulting firm, collected and accessed over 50 million Facebook users' private information without their knowledge.
The data, originally claimed to have been collected for academic purposes, reportedly was later used to target Facebook users for crafted ads and messages for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
What makes this breach unique is that Cambridge Analytica didn’t steal this information — it was given to the company.
In 2014, a survey app was crafted titled ThisIsYourDigitalLife. Facebook users could connect it to their accounts, granting access to their profiles.
When breaches and hacks happen to major companies, from Target to Equifax, users and consumers are often left anxiety-ridden about the safety and security of their personal information.
Social media users should assess why they’re handing over personal information before doing so. You should ask yourself, ‘Do I know what people are going to do with my data?’
Here are six tips to help prevent your digital information from being used without your consent.
Share with care. What you put on the web can last a lifetime. Before posting about yourself with others, think about how it will be perceived now and in the future.
Own your online presence. Set your privacy settings to a comfort level good for you. Urge people to really think about it deeply.
Spring clean. The same way you spring clean your house, the same needs to be done for your computer. Look at all your apps, and ask what are they trying to find out about you. Get rid of the apps you aren’t using.
Secure devices. Use facial recognition or long pass phrases instead of passwords. Passwords with special characters are hard to crack, but also hard to remember. Longer phrases are better, like ‘mary had a little lamb.’ Find a pass phrase that is something long that you’ll remember and will be difficult to replicate.
Use two-step verification. Your most important sites, like banking and health apps, should have a code or fingerprint after the pass codes.
Ask why you’re giving certain information. If you’re taking an online quiz, that quiz doesn’t need to know your address and phone number. Be careful if you feel (uncomfortable) disclosing info to certain questions. Vendors can be putting together a profile on you based on the info you give.