Poor, poor Facebook.
It hasn’t been a very good 2018 for the tech giant: Mark Zuckerberg had to answer questions about data and privacy in front of the world’s watching eyes and the US senate, their share price dropped, and they became the first company to lose over $100 billion worth of stock in one day. Now, hackers targeted the social media platform and exposed the data of 50 million users just a few months after the GDPR law came into play. Uh oh.
It is the first data protection incident for a major tech company since GDPR started in May 2018 and Facebook could be fined a record $1.63 billion, which is 4% of their annual turnover.
Facebook’s impact on the world can’t be understated, it has over 2.2billion users, the social media giant has also launched a new unit of time called “the flick” in early 2018. But that lovely, sugary coating can’t hide the fact that there is a darker underbelly to Facebook’s “yay, let’s connect everyone” attitude.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal which saw the data of 87 million people collected to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election was one of the main drivers behind suspicion of Facebook’s data activity, and the recent hack has done nothing to help the claims that Facebook is now just a money-making juggernaut for the likes of Mark Zuckerberg. Users and critics don’t think they’re just looking to connect people, now it’s more to receive as much data as possible and flog it to the highest bidder.
You tend to forget that Facebook is no longer somewhere to get in touch with long-lost friends and relatives, or somewhere to browse hilarious videos of pets: ultimately, it’s a business and your information can, and is, used to make profit.
The amount of data that Facebook holds makes it a clear target for hackers and cybercriminals, which became clear recently when Facebook announced the data of over 50 million users was compromised, with a further 40 million also potentially being accessed too. Imagine this: it is estimated that Facebook has an average of 29,000 data points on any one user, and with 2.2billion users, that makes a lot of data points (63 trillion to be precise).
The hackers exploited three separate vulnerabilities in Facebook’s code to gain access to the information; the change the company made to its video uploading feature in July 2017 affecting the “View as” feature which allows users to see how a profile looks to other people with differing levels of access. It is not yet known what the information was used for or how long the culprits had access, but it’s anticipated that they would have had access to other applications the user registered for using Facebook including Spotify, Airbnb, Tinder or a selection of games.
What does the future hold? Well, social media in general has become a convoluted mess of advertising tools and marketing, they are no longer there to help people stay connected, more to connect you with the things you want rather than need. While this is good for advertising purposes, it provides a distinct and real threat to your information to the realities of cyberattacks.
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