4 Lessons Every Business Owner Should Learn From the Facebook Scandal

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Facebook is in hot water right now over the alleged harvesting and use of personal data.

An investigation regarding the Facebook scandal is in full swing, with Mark Zuckerberg being questioned by the US Senate and lawmakers in early April of this year.

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What exactly happened? Here’s a brief timeline to help you understand the sequence of events that lead this social media firestorm.

  • 2010- Facebook allowed external developers to access a Facebook user’s personal data and their friends’ personal data.
  • 2013 – Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan created the app called ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ which prompted users to answer questions for the purpose of creating a psychological profile. Only 300 respondents answered the survey but the app had access to the respondents’ Facebook friends so the number ballooned to millions of Facebook profiles.
  • 2014 – Facebook retracted the access given to developers.
  • 2016 – Donald Trump’s campaign team invested heavily in Facebook ad campaigns with the help of Cambridge Analytica.
  • March 17, 2018 – The Guardian and The New York Times reported that 50 million Facebook profiles were harvested by Cambridge Analytica in a major information security scandal. Investigations revealed the actual number to be 87 million. March 20, 2018 – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation regarding the data scandal.
  • March 21, 2018 – Mark Zuckerberg responded to the issue by posting a lengthy update. Two weeks after, he also published full-page ads as a response to the issue.
  • April 10, 2018 – Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees in line with the investigation by the FTC.

In an age where information security is a hot topic, the recent Facebook scandal has re-affirmed the importance of securing your data, whether it’s personal or business-related data.

What does this mean for business owners and entrepreneurs? There are 4 major lessons every business owner should learn from this digital crisis.

Let’s look at them one by one.

  1. First, data is important. It doesn’t matter what type of data you have, they all have their own value. Whether it’s personal information or financial information relating to your business, they are both important and need to be protected because other people can use them against you. In this case, the data breach might seem unimportant because people argue that Facebook profiles are public anyway. However, you have to consider how that data has been used. It might be harmless in the hands of some people, but it could be a gold mine in the hands of those who profit with this kind of data.
  1. Second, anyone can be a victim. We are all affected, in some way or another, by this security leak. It doesn’t discriminate by age, sex, profession or location. Whether you run a small business or operate a multi-national corporation, information breaches can happen to you- and they are costly. Studies estimate the average cost of data breach to be around $3.62 million in 2017.
  1. Third, a data breach has a lot of forms. Before, when you think of information leaks, the first thing that comes to mind is that of a hacker trying to get into your system or a malicious malware harvesting your information online. This case is different because the concerned party openly accessed other people’s information and used them without consent. The crucial part is that it was not only the 300 respondents but the people associated with them as well. A modern data breach has long graduated from being something that only hackers can do and has evolved into something that every one of us can do.
  1. Last and most important of all, having a solid information security strategy is crucial. As a business owner, you should have a firm grasp on what information goes in and out of your company. Having a comprehensive information security plan helps minimize data breaches, especially in an age when everyone is on social media.

At the end of the day, information is power and it is our responsibility to protect our information.

“As the world is increasingly interconnected, everyone shares the responsibility of securing cyberspace.”

– Newton Lee,

If you want to learn about how Global Strategic protects our clients’ data, check out our ISO certification page or call us at (02) 638-3816.

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