This week we take a look at the latest stories about the privacy of our personal data. In a connected world where our preferences, relationships, habits and passions are all up for grabs, how much do we truly value our privacy?
Netflix documentary The Great Hack landed globally on 24th July. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, the film explores the downfall of Cambridge Analytica and how the use of Facebook data may have directly led to the victory of Trump in the US and the Brexit campaign in the UK. Uncovered by journalist Carole Cadwalladr, the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal has come to symbolise the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election. Many viewers have found this quite a disturbing watch (especially those who don’t know much about data use and targeting) putting a spotlight on the lack of rights to data privacy and the threat this could have on democracy. Rolling Stone film critic David Fear: “You leave with a very clear sense of how one company aided and abetted the selling of democracy down the river, not to mention having your fingernails chewed down to the quick. Even people who had been following the Cambridge Analytica case will be soberly reminded that only the names have changed. The threat still remains. That, and the fact that 2020 is a lot closer than we’d like to think.”
Facebook are setting up privacy cafes, where visitors can receive help with the privacy settings on their account over a cup of tea or coffee. Set up in Brighton, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh, café guests will learn how to tailor their Facebook settings to choose how much of their information is visible and which apps and websites they have connected to its site. Facebook has already set up a ‘privacy café’ before in May in Japan, where visitors took a quiz about both Facebook and Instagram security settings.
In the era of Fake News, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know what information is real and who is targeting you. Whilst it may be easy to assume that people are disseminating false information for idealist reasons, a new study has found that the reality is that the business of pushing content online is highly lucrative. For businesses this can be problematic: if they’re not careful in choosing the right publishers and taking the professional and social responsibility by adhering to brand safety guidelines, they can end up with their ads next to brand-damaging content; for consumers this means being targeted with hateful or false information often dressed up as truth, through platforms such as Facebook. Steps are being taken to be more vigilant, with Google and Facebook implemented “trust indicators” to identify articles coming from trusted news sources.