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Facebook data breach and the questions around it

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What happens when one of the biggest social media giant is accused of data breach? The recent Facebook- Cambridge Analytica saga revealed that the information of more than 50 million users was accessed by the UK based political consultancy. This brings to light the importance of transparency regarding the use of consumers information. The advertisements and promotions that materialize on Facebook are based on the online behaviour of an individual thereby highlighting one key aspect – How much of the user’s personal data has gone out to the advertisers since Facebook accounts for one- fifth of the global online ad market. Whether such information is used to influence the decision of the consumer in any way is failure on part of the privacy policies designed by Facebook. While the global internet browser Mozilla decided to pull out advertisements from the platform, what are the further impacts that could be coming in and whether there would be any changes in the acceptance of social media platforms answers Manika Juneja, AVP-Operations-West, Client Servicing, WATConsult.

The world witnessed the biggest data breach in the history of Facebook in March 2018. What do you have to say about the data leak?

We live in a data-driven environment and are prone to data leak by firms who gather, track and analyse consumer data. The point of the matter is how vigilant the platform & system is in dealing with consumer data and in case of any crisis or breach are they transparent in communication. Speedy implementation of corrective actions will help them take control of the situation. Having said that, this recent issue is an eye-opener for everybody involved, the users, social media platforms, brands and policymakers worldwide.

A doubt has now come in the minds of the users with regard to the authenticity of the usage of social media platforms. How will social media giants or new social media platforms be able to regain the trust with regard to their privacy issues?

To regain trust, in India, social media platforms need to introduced changes in data security and privacy to make it more consumer-centric. Timely audits, adherence to updated terms & conditions will lead to consumer assurance towards data security. Most of the times these privacy controls (security settings and privacy policies) are difficult to read and comprehend, platforms should take a step to make these clear, simple & understandable. Moreover, the platforms should be transparent about the use of consumer data at their end.

Do you think this is a good opportunity for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a social media platform?

The Facebook data breach has caused a minor dent in the usage but the platform still remains inescapable. For an individual, losing the platform will mean losing connections with the digital/social circle they have created over years.

This issue is platform agnostic and can happen with the platforms which are not vigilant with data privacy and security. People will be more sceptical to join new platforms with the notion that if data leak can happen with one of the largest social media platforms, smaller ones will be more prone to it.

As a user, what are the things that should be kept in mind so that the privacy is maintained at all times? How can one ensure the safer usage of social media platforms?

As users, we have to make a choice of either ticking or not ticking a box about sharing data and accepting the terms and conditions offered by the social media platforms under the privacy policy. One should be cautious before sharing information or allowing access to third-party apps via social media platforms. One must ensure to review the platforms at regular intervals where personal information is shared. The world has now changed to a data-centric one and this is one of the trade-offs we, as users, make every day online.

How will advertisers be affected with the change in privacy policies, if any?

In India, the social media consumer base continues to grow and the change in policy will not impact the advertisers to a larger extent. Advertisers will, however, be more cautious to avoid any infringement.

Reported by Smriti Mishra

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