#1-Facebook might mine user data without the user's permission. Many of the estimated 87 million users whose information was sold to Cambridge Analytica never downloaded the "thisisyourdigitallife" app and never gave permission for their data to be used in any way. But they're not the only ones who could have been affected. Data from other sources may also have been harvested by Cambridge Analytica or others acting on its behalf.
#2-Facebook uses your personal data to profit itself. Facebook claims it doesn't use your personal data for its own benefit, but rather for that of its members. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a plan to give users more control over how their data is used. But critics say this is just another example of how Facebook makes money by using what we do online against us. For example, researchers have found ways to guess our preferences based on which friends we follow on Instagram. When many people start following certain brands or products, those brands increase their exposure through Instagram's algorithm and gain popularity even though that wasn't the purpose behind following them.
#3-Facebook might put your health at risk by exposing you to harmful content. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, children aged 8-18 are two times as likely to be diagnosed with depression if they use Facebook. Adults are also less likely to report feeling happy after using Facebook for an hour or longer.
On other sites and applications, Facebook tracks both its users and nonusers. It captures biometric face data without the express "opt-in" authorization of users. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress on the first day of hearings this week. He has pledged that the firm is striving to avoid inappropriate data gathering. Credit: Credit: Credit: Alan Yu / The New York Times
Facebook gathers data from users who take advantage of several features on the site. These include the Facebook Login tool, which allows people to log in to third-party apps by using their Facebook account; Social Plugins, which are small programs that can be added to a website to display content from Facebook, such as a list of your friends; and Share buttons, which appear on websites and allow users to share articles with their friends.
When you give your consent for some actions on Facebook, such as signing up for events or adding contacts, you may not realize it but information about your interests is collected automatically. This includes your political views, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and more. Data about your internet browsing habits is also gathered when you use services such as Google Analytics and Hotjar. Users can review the data they have shared with Facebook and remove it if needed.
In addition to using its own software tools, Facebook asks third-party app developers to use their data. If an app has not been updated in more than a year, for example, Facebook will not let it access user data anymore.
Because everything is hackable, we as users may limit the type of data we provide with any site. Furthermore, we have yet to hear Facebook's response to these most recent breaches, as they have made no mention of them. But one thing is certain: it is no longer secure. Not even a little bit.
Facebook declined to comment, instead referring CNN Business to its current app developer regulations, which ban the sharing of Facebook users' information with "unauthorized" parties. For example, "do not utilize data received from us to create tools used for surveillance," according to Facebook's policy. The company also said it would remove apps that misused information.
However, earlier this year a New York Times investigation found that hundreds of thousands of US citizens' phone numbers were shared with nearly 30 companies by an internal tool called "Address Book Sync." The article also revealed that Facebook allowed other companies to access our personal data through our use of their services. For example, a company could use Facebook Login to let users log into other websites or applications with their Facebook account information.
Users have the option to delete their Facebook data, but some experts say this isn't enough to protect your privacy because many types of data are hard to replace. For example, if you delete an email, you can always send another one later. But if you delete a photo from your profile, there's no going back. Data that is deleted from a computer may still be visible when you use special software such as cache and temp files.
The FBI has been known to request customer data from tech companies during investigations, especially when they need to identify unknown individuals involved in crimes. For example, the agency requested information about an individual suspected of terrorism after the 2016 San Bernardino attack.