Amajla Tricic, Assistant News Editor
It was revealed last week that political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica gained improper access to the data of 50 million Facebook profiles.
The firm identifies American voters and their political leanings by looking at a user’s Likes and Shares on the social media platform. That same collected information is used to make ads that appear on a user’s page.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to his own Facebook page to apologize for the incident that occurred, sharing the following as part of an apology and message tusers: “For those I hurt this year, I ask forgiveness and I will try to be better. For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better.”
The company also reached out to share what they would do about the incident, saying “Several days ago, we received reports that, contrary to the certifications we were given, not all data was deleted. We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made. We are suspending SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan from Facebook, pending further information.”
On top of the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has also admitted to collecting data about phone calls and texts from Android phone users. However, most users were unaware that by syncing their phone contacts into Facebook Messenger they were allowing for records to be screened.
The company said users can turn this feature off in their Facebook settings, but the backlash the company is currently facing raises the question if the social media platform can be trusted and how a user must be careful with the tools given to them.
Neil Fatata, a cybersecurity major at Utica College, said social media is the top choice for social engineering attacks and also mentioned that the elderly and younger kids could be vulnerable because they “do not truly understand” how social media works.
“Social engineer attacks can get your personal information from bank accounts to passwords,” he said. “This attack is where a social engineer would use a certain type of attack or phishing to get personal information or passwords to then get more from you.”
Fatata explained one way this could happen is by tricking a user into changing their password in an email that appears to be from an official, trustworthy account.
Belkisa Nuhanovic, also a Cybersecurity major, said that it is important not to have any personal information on social media.
“I do like social media to catch up on my news and see what my friends are up to, but I would never put out things like my address on there,” she said. “No matter how safe you think your profile is, there is always someone trying to attack you or use you for data.”
Since news of Facebook’s data issues came to light, the company’s stock has also tumbled as much as 14 percent.