Face it! Big Brother is watching us surf the net

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Beware of what you post or store on social media

Every day, we log into our Facebook page, post photos, videos and updates, catch up with friends, read interesting articles/news, watch videos, play games and take fun quizzes. We give FB our complete trust and share information as if the social media site is our most endeared friend, not oblivious to the fact that we could be rendered bare naked with whatever information we part with on this site.

Recently, Facebook came out with a statement that 87 million of its users have had their information compromised. Those who have logged in and used the third party app “thisismydigitallife” (or whose friends have used the app) had their data mined for use by political and business entities to favour certain candidates, agenda, cause, or other interests. Now called the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, it has tarnished the name of Facebook as the London-based company was able to use data to have reportedly helped advance the campaign of Donald Trump, among other things, which catapulted him to the Presidency.

There’s even news going around in the Philippines that it was the same agency who intervened in the Philippine elections won by the current President Rodrigo Duterte.

During the recent US Congressional hearing, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted to the breach of security, apologised and claimed responsibility for this shortcoming. While this was an admirable gesture by the highest ranked person in Facebook, we now begin to think about Internet security and privacy of information.

Facebook is not only the social media site we frequent. There’s also Twitter and Instagram, plus chat apps like WhatsApp and Viber. Zuckerberg was quick to point out that maybe they should also conduct their own security checks. While we do recognise that when we login to these sites, we disclose information that points to who we are, where we are and what our inclinations lean towards, we still expect these sites to provide us with some security that our data is kept private and not shared with the third party for their campaigns and marketing.

We want to surf and enjoy our social media experiences without the constant thought of a Big Brother constantly watching us.

Maybe this is now the name of the game, and those who win in this digital war get the attention of the targeted audience.

The playing field has moved from traditional media to the Internet, and marketers and strategists have become aggressive in reaching to their intended markets. This kind of intrusion into our privacy is what gives life to many trolls lurking on the Net, digital influencers who sway our opinion towards their preferred direction. However, not all influencers dish out sound materials to pull us into their fold. Some influencers circulate fake news and even encourage bashing of their rivals.

As social media users and patrons, we should demand a higher order of security to protect our data. Socmed sites earn millions of revenues from ads so they should also invest heavily in security. Because if there’s one lesson to be learned from the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, these campaign managers and strategists have become more determined in achieving their or their client’s goals by having on hand private and intimate data about the audience. It’s like we have given them access to our innermost thoughts, feelings, aspirations and desires, for which they now have the tools to “manipulate” us.

That being said, we should also exercise greater caution on the sites we go to, the apps we use, and especially the information we share. Facebook is already a socmed giant, yet its security was stealthily penetrated. We should be discerning whether the site is trustworthy and be wary of all our Internet interactions and transactions.

— Source: The Philippine Times, April 2018 Edition

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