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Over the course of one’s life, assuming one is somewhat social, they will come across a number of interesting characters. Some will remain and become close friends while others will drift off into the distance. The unifying factor among everyone you meet is that, prior to the last couple of years, if you established a connection you’d add them on any number of social media platforms, specifically.

When Facebook (FB) was in its height of popularity, people would use the Company’s name as a verb, telling new friends to “facebook them” when they get home. Now, I’m willing to bet a reasonable amount of money on the fact that each and every one of you has a Facebook (FB) friend who you somewhat know, but don’t fully trust. You met them at a party or through someone else, but you’ve always an inkling that they were up to something. I’m here to tell you that your inclinations were spot on, but you failed to look at the bigger picture. 

Facebook (FB) is the sketchy character from the aforementioned example and they’ve reached this level of infamy after months of failing to protect user data from unsavory individuals. When the largest social platform in the history of the internet is discovered to have worked with a consulting firm who lied about their intentions to perform psychological research on 270,000 plus users but, in actuality, they sold user data from 50 million profiles to help the Republican Party take the 2016 election, it’s completely justifiable that you catch flack from the media. 

It’s almost painful how often Facebook (FB) has dropped the data privacy ball over the last few months. To be honest, I’m fairly close to closing my own account in an effort to secure my private information. According to a TechCrunch report released this week, over 540 million user profiles were exposed due to two separate third-party companies who failed to keep them safe. As for the team that discovered the data exposure, the UpGuard Cyber Risk team today reported that Cultura Colectiva, a Mexico-based media company exposed “146 gigabytes of records including comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB Ids and more.”

Given the increasing value of data among the tech industry, one would think that Facebook (FB) would be more careful with which companies it works with/shares user data with. In all fairness to Zuckerberg and his team of rag-tag engineers at Facebook (FB), mistakes happen, especially with computers. Having said that, Facebook (FB) has dominated the headlines over the last six months for several “mistakes” that bring to mind the question of whether our data is truly safe when stored on internet databases and social media sites. 

“For app developers on Facebook, part of the platform’s appeals is access to some slice of the data generated by and about Facebook users. For Cultura Colectiva, data on responses to each post allows them to tune an algorithm for predicting which future content will generate the most traffic. The data exposed in each of these sets would not exist without Facebook, yet these data sets are no longer under Facebook’s control. In each case, the Facebook platform facilitated the collection of data about individuals and its transfer to third parties, who became responsible for its security.”

-UpGuard

Facebook (FB) data, as well as data gathered from other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have proven to be invaluable for companies looking to gain insight on the consumer market. In fact, across a variety of industries, companies are investing in data analytics, machine learning, and other means to process large amounts of data. Though I’ve never had the fortune of running a global social network, my advice to any of you who are considering to take your idea to the internet is that if your idea involves capturing information from real people, keep it safe. 

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