Privacy as we know it is dead (but data security matters more than ever)

facebook likes social media privacy adam jang unsplash

Over the last few days, as the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica disaster continues to make waves, there has been a huge increase in deleted Facebook profiles. Elon Musk made waves when he deleted his company pages for both Tesla and SpaceX, after first claiming surprise that either of his companies was on Facebook in the first place. This move has given the #deletefacebook even more momentum.

Is deleting Facebook really the answer to the latest data scandal, however? And, more importantly for brands using social media, is privacy even a real thing anymore?

The concept of privacy has been hotly debated ever since Mark Zuckerberg famously stated that privacy did not exist in the online era. While there is no doubt that we pay a huge price for access to tools such as social media, online privacy as we no once knew it is a thing of the past. That does not mean that data security should not be treated with the utmost concern. In fact, if the last few years have taught us anything, data security is more important than it’s ever been, precisely because privacy has changed so much.

Even if Facebook itself was deleted, there would still be privacy issues. Every website, app and online service requires data, which means that it is impossible for anyone to be invisible in today’s online world. Before you jump on the bandwagon and remove all of your Facebook profiles and company pages, here are a few simple tips to keep in mind to ensure that your data (and your audience’s privacy) is not at risk.

Invest in regular data audits

Facebook is not the only service at risk of breaches and hacking attempts. Getting your own website secure should be your first step. Regular data audits that identify potential weak areas in your website are the best way to prevent attacks. You can also determine what information you are collecting and whether you truly need all the data you collect and store.

Take a good, hard look at your data policies

While you’re at it, it is also a good idea to review your data policies. Every single website, app and store needs clearly outlined, easy to access data policies that outline exactly what data is recorded and stored by those using your site. This should be updated as anything changes. It should also be communicated clearly to customers.

Give customers a choice

Do your customers get a say in what data is collected and stored? Do they have any control over your data collection process at all? Most customers will have only the most cursory of glances at your privacy policy. Others may not want to opt-in to third-party data collection if even there’s some benefit on offer. Some may be happy to share their data if it means that they get better, more personalised service. Giving customers a choice is the best way to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Over and beyond these steps, it is crucial to be honest and open with your customers when talking about data. If the worst happens and your data is breached, sold or hacked, it will be far easier to deal with the effects if you have established a culture of transparency rather than tried to sweep everything under the proverbial table.

Feature image: Adam Jang via Unsplash

Anton Koekemoer


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