If we knew how our data is used we would use social media differently, says privacy activist.
The harvesting of information from social media has prompted a backlash against Facebook and data company Cambridge Analytica.
Users are questioning whether their personal information is secure under the social media giant’s watchful eye.
Paul-Olivier Dehaye helps people control their online footprint. He says information about data use should be clearer. If it were “we might be collectively empowered to ask for better services, and change the current dynamic.
“In many countries, including the UK, it is your right to ask any company or public entity for a copy of the information they have about you.”
This follows a Guardian and Channel 4 investigation, which discovered that data company Cambridge Analytica mined social media data to target political advertising at users.
In a secretly filmed meeting, the company claimed that they intentionally influenced the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election and Brexit Referendum.
“Companies collect a lot of personal data because it is an asset, it increases the value of their company.” said Mr Dehaye, who co-founded personaldata.io.
“[They] can use this data to understand their users and make their products better, target advertisements more precisely (either for themselves or for others), or simply resell it to others.”
To post, or not to post?
However, those who are less aware of how technology works may be less likely to understand what data is stored and who has shared it.
In the case of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook data was shared with them by Cambridge University researcher Dr Aleksandr Kogan.
Dr Kogan created a Facebook app called This is Your Digital Life, which collected around 300,000 users’ data as well as tens of millions of their friends’ data, according to a statement made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Dr Christopher Richardson, head of the Cyber Security Unit at Bournemouth University, said that this was “without consent, and knowingly without consent.
“It’s a very difficult world we’re beginning to live in. Things are connected to other things, that hyper-connectivity of information is either going to be the building of a great society or a destruction of the way we think and work today.
“You make the choice, whether you want the information made publicly available.
“You’ll never recover it, you cant go back in and just delete it. It will be out there and it will be replicated many, many times. What’s online, stays online.”