The Federal Trade Commission is investigating social media giant Facebook after data from 50 million users may have been improperly obtained and allegedly used to sway voters in favor of Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential election.
Political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica is the company accused of stealing users’ personal information through third-party apps like games and quizzes. The data breach is now adding to a growing list of concerns on how to protect yourself online.
Paul Van Slyke is an intellectual property attorney that specializes in data privacy at Howard Slovacek LLP. He said in today’s world, data breaches are inevitable.
“When companies have access to your Facebook pages, they can learn a lot about a person– their likes, dislikes and a lot of their personal information. The Internet is an open system and it doesn’t have many ways of stopping hacking,” Van Slyke said.
But there are measures users can take to better protect themselves.
“You really need to think of what you post as potentially available to someone who wants to do you harm. Be careful with what you share, especially when you don’t know what it is you’re sharing,” Van Slyke said.
“There is software you can purchase that helps you flag down when your information is at risk of being breached. That is probably the best and most secure way you could protect yourself.”
Despite the scrutiny Facebook is facing, many users said they would never consider getting rid of it.
“No, I have cousins that are distant and live out of town and that’s how we reach each other,” Pashall Parker said.
“No, my Facebook allows me to stay connected to people in the United States and around the world, and like I said, I use it for my business so why would I give up something that helps with my revenue and my professional look,” Rohaid Lakhani said.
However, experts warn that erasing your profile for good is much harder than a click of a button.
“You may be able to erase yourself from the visible layer, but you probably cannot erase the behind the scenes layer where hackers can find you,” Van Slyke said.