Whoâs afraid of Facebookâs data breach? | DMA

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Whoâs afraid of Facebookâs data breach?

Facebook’s data breach couldn’t have come at a worse time, hitting the headlines just as whistleblower Edward Snowden accused GCHQ of eavesdropping on our online conversations and passing on intelligence to the NSA.

In case you missed the other big data scandal in the news, Facebook inadvertently leaked the phone numbers and addresses of 6 million users worldwide.

Now as well as getting paranoid about any political or controversial rants we may have foolishly posted, those of us who’ve collected digital ‘friends’ on drunken nights out or on a whim, will be wondering if we’re one of the 6 million whose personal details got leaked.

It’s not the data leak that worries me, but how long it went on for. A year, a whole 12 months that my Facebook ‘friends’ could have access to my phone number and email address. To make matters worse, this was information that users hadn’t given to Facebook; it was data that Facebook had gathered behind closed doors to create shadow profiles. Facebook was right to hold its hands up and admit the mistake in a blog post on Friday 21 June.

But for me Facebook made several big errors – collecting data without people’s consent, not finding the leak sooner and not telling people as soon as they discovered it. Apparently, Facebook security was alerted to the bug a whole week before they went public with it. It’s great that they fixed the bug in 24 hours but I want to know if I’m affected, especially if my data has been floating around unprotected for a year.

There must be a way to get that kind of information out there faster. Facebook did give a reason for the delay – something about company procedures, having to notify affected users before making a public announcement and so on. That still leaves me and the other 1.1bn users wondering if we’re one of the unlucky 6 million. And then there’s the loss of face for the social networking giant. I don’t know about you, but I want to know when, how and why my data is being collected. It’s not that I’m paranoid, I just like to have a choice.

Facebook might not have broken the law, but complying with the law isn’t enough. Brands need to respect what their customers want. And, judging by the furore online over this leak this means being totally honest and transparent with them at all times.

By Smarayda Christoforou, Copywriter, DMA

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