How to Protect Your Online Data in Social Media: Facebook Privacy Lawsuit

 Lessons from the latest Facebook Privacy Lawsuit: Protecting Your Private Data Online

Facebook has taken data sharing to another level: Selling private user data to advertisers, allegedly. In a recent Financial Times article, a claim has been made against Facebook  as The Facebook Privacy Lawsuit, for intercepting private DM between Facebook users and then using that data for ad sales.. This is not so new news.

In fact, many of the big social media channels have admitted to selling its users data. Recently in the Wall Street Journal, Twitter Inc. disclosed how much the micro-blogging platform earned from a lesser-known side business: $47.5 Million USD came from selling off its fast-growing group of companies that analyze the data for insights into new events and trends.

This new class action against Facebook has been brought on by Matthew Campbell from Arkansas and Michael Hurley from Oregon, on behalf of any FB users in the US who have sent a private link through FB private messaging per FT. In the claim, it cites independent research supporting evidence that when a user sends a link through a private message it is recorded to the sender’s web activity profile.  Further, those links are automatically added as likes to the receivers Facebook profile page.

So what is the potential damage?  Legal counsel involved with the case state that the amount of violations is likely to be in the millions (as there are 166 million Facebook account holders in the country).

What is interesting about this Facebook Privacy Lawsuit is that it is public knowledge that anything posted on Facebook or shared on Facebook is public and can be found through simple searching. This points to the need and importance of Facebook users and other social media users, in general, about being cautious in what is being posted in an open social network. If we look to post Edward Snowden and the NSA fiasco, we now need to understand that this  whole idea of privacy has changed. Any time you are submitting information online in an open-source situation such as Facebook, you are also open to have your private information possibly read and utilized by the owners of such a social network.

Although Facebook says, “We believe the allegations are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”  This case is another reminder that the online world is no longer private, even private messaging.

So what can you do about maintaining online privacy? Many things. Not just as a social media user, but as a business owner or executive. At my firm, Agent-cy, for example, as part of our Online Branding service, we develop and deploy closed, custom private corporate websites and train users on total control. We use the most detailed analytic tools on a daily basis to understand our clients’ social media sentiment and address any challenges immediately.

Any digital agency or digital marketing consultant these days must understand how to keep their clients data secure and private, when necessary. For Facebook business users, there are loads of viable opportunities to advertise and engage authentically in related target Facebook groups to develop relationships, for example, without spilling all of your private info in messaging. At the end of the day, online privacy for business users is only as good as the company’s social media guidelines.

Now, with cases like this claim against Facebook and others for selling user data, we know we as digital marketers, must make sure we put in place privacy and security measures within our Social Media Strategy and Corporate website development. The more you know, the better. And now more importantly, in online privacy, the better you are prepared and follow guidelines for usage that protect your online reputation, the better off you will be at controlling what happens to you and your company online.  Gain access to more posts and whitepapers on how you can protect your data online by setting up a subscription profile on my Blog.