In the wake of a privacy scandal involving Facebook and a third party political consulting company named Cambridge Analytica, a local internet security specialist is encouraging people to read the fine print.
Over the last few weeks, it has come to light that Cambridge Analytica accessed around 50 million Facebook users information with the help of the social media giant. They collected the date for the purpose of influencing elections including work done on the 2016 American presidential election and the Brexit vote.
Mathieu Manaigre owns Avenir IT and lives in St. Agathe. He says it is important to know what you are signed up for.
"A lot of times we don’t take the time to read that fine print, and especially when it comes to free applications, they are making money somewhere and we have got to stop and think ‘what is it we are giving them in exchange for this free service if it is not money?"
Manaigre says companies like Facebook and Google turn a profit by allowing researchers to access their user data for studies. He notes the Cambridge Analytica scandal is a little different in that it violated Facebook’s terms of services.
"What is concerning with Cambridge [Analytica], the way that the information was collected is fine, it was done through a survey but the problem is that they were also accessing information from their friends without their friends consent so this is where it gets problematic, even if I haven’t given consent to it, if I had a friend on Facebook do this survey they were also accessing my information."
Cambridge Analytica designed a quiz app within Facebook that people had to sign up for. They then collected the data of the 270 thousand willing participants and also collected the data of all of their friends.
Manaigre says every time we sign up for an app like Facebook we must understand that they own the information you put on their service. He recommends being very careful with what is uploaded to these free social media platforms and says reassessing your privacy settings is most likely a good idea. He adds the best way to keep your personal data safe is simply to stay off social media.
Facebook has apologized and promised to take steps to better protect the data of their users.