Keeping information private on Facebook

Published: Mar. 26, 2018 at 5:39 PM EDT
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British Consulting firm Cambridge Analytica is accused of data mining the information of 50-million Facebook profiles. The Federal Trade Commission announced Monday it would be investigating the social media site over its failure to protect the privacy of users.

"We have a basic responsibility to protect people's data,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told CNN. “And if we can't do that, then we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people."

Many people are now wondering what kind of information does Facebook have, and how can they protect their privacy?

"Having information that you've placed out there, your opinions, your usage, what you click on, that type of thing, they've got your metadata,” says Laura Gurney, an assistant professor of Integrated Technology at Husson University. “So they know what you've been doing and what your options are and they can target advertising or anything else at you."

Facebook's data policy says information they collect can range from who you interact with, information about your mobile device, even credit card information.

Gurney says users agree to share this information when they sign up for Facebook. In turn, Facebook can share this information with advertisers.

"It's a binding contract when you click "okay," but nobody reads them."

"I now know what you like, where you want to go, and how much you like to spend and that is a big deal. So maybe only Mainers like to buy ice cream. Well, I'm going to advertise more ice cream to Mainers."

While Facebook has made promises to change the way they police their data sharing, Gurney says the best way to protect information is not to share it at all.

"People get very used to this is their safe space to express things because they think it is going to their friends. But unless you set all of the privacy settings, all of the friends are edited and you've made sure that their actually friends and you're not just collecting people, all of that information is shared with just about anybody."

"Be careful that you don't post anything you wouldn't want somebody to drive by your house and see the information about, if you don't want it on your lawn, don't put it there."