Facebook’s Data Breach & Your personal information online

By Kirsten Manners | Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Facebook data breach has been in the news recently and has many people worried about their privacy on Facebook or contemplating deleting Facebook altogether. But does the Facebook breach actually impact your online privacy?

What was the data breach?

Firstly, the breach didn’t have anything to do with privacy. The breach involved Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company, who worked for the Trump campaign exploiting loopholes left open by Facebook to harvest user data and run misleading ads. They didn’t hack Facebook’s database.  You can read more about the Cambridge Analytica breach here.

The concept of swapping service for data as a commercial arrangement is how Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat all work. As put by Michael Goldthorpe managing partner at Hunch, “If the product is free, you’re the product.”

Everyday people are targeted online due to their searching habits, age demographics and interests. Most people usually don’t care about the use of their data but feel deceived when it comes to third-party use of their information.

Were Kiwi’s affected?

An estimated 64,000 New Zealand Facebook users’ data was compromised. The data shared with Cambridge Analytica was taken via a personality quiz, called “ThisIsYourDigitalLife”. Apparently approximately 10 people in New Zealand downloaded the app which in turn possibly impacts thousands of their friend’s accounts.

Facebook has said they would be letting people know if their data had been accessed by Cambridge Analytica.

What has changed on Facebook as a result?

Some things will not change at all and one of those is Facebook’s huge audience and the targeting options available based on Facebooks user information. Facebook advertising is and will remain one of the best ways businesses can target interested customers.

What should you do if you’re concerned about your personal information online?

Anyone concerned about the security of their personal information on Facebook should take their own steps to protect themselves.

Our privacy on Facebook was not affected by the data breach but reviewing the online habits you have developed is a good idea.  People often forget or perhaps don’t realise how easily they are submitting personal information online from downloading a ‘free’ PDF or entering their details to win a competition. Checking your privacy settings and unlinking any questionable third-party apps is a good place to start. This online privacy quiz is useful to see how secure your personal information on the internet is and follow the simple steps to improve your privacy.



Author: Kirsten Manners

Kirsten’s first visit to New Zealand was a permanent move, so most of her spare time is spent exploring the local sights of Rotorua and everything New Zealand has to offer.

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