Facebook thinks it has lost trust but in reality, no one cares.

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which didn’t quite shake the world, Facebook has come out attacking. I’ve seen numerous adverts around towns and cities with an apology from the company. But in reality, and this is the saddest realisation, no one actually cares about it.

Facebook is a dominant force, the #1 social network. Unchallenged thus far, even its closest competitors: Twitter, Google+, Diaspora, Pinterest, and many others, have failed to take its crown. Almost one third of the world now have a Facebook account and it is the single easiest way to keep in touch with your family.

That is one of the main reasons why people won’t care about the data breach. Because what they can get out of Facebook visibly, like seeing the pictures of a new niece, playing the latest game, or getting updates on their daughter’s gap year trip, is more important to them than what happens behind the scenes.

People also don’t understand, because they can’t see it.

This happens to me a lot when talking to some of my older generation relatives, they don’t “get” what I do or how I make money because they can’t see the end result. So they just take the stance of not caring, there is no physical evidence of what I do, so therefore it isn’t important.

This is the same for Facebook’s algorithm, the data behind it, and all the advertising tools that only marketing people see. People only care about what they see. I would hazard a guess that a majority of the folk using Facebook didn’t keep up with everything that was happening with the data breach and didn’t see much happening, therefore it wasn’t as important as little Anna’s birthday.

A picture of the Facebook apology that ran in major newspapers after the scandal.
An example of the Faceboook apology advert. Picture from Brian Stelter on Twitter.

The ignorance is bliss stance, which is used by a lot of people at the moment, just isn’t going to work on social media and in the internet age when there are more and more people using your data.

It isn’t a single parties fault though

That’s the weird bit of this whole situation. If you go through it all, there isn’t a single person that is truly at fault. You could argue that the websites that hold the data should have been more careful, and yes they should be. But then, the data giver which is you or me, should have been more aware about where that data was going and how it was going to be used.

Looking after data is one thing, but only giving out data on a need to know basis is also an important step. Both individuals and companies need to work together to make sure the data that is being shared, is useful and meaningful. Again this is something that GDPR partly solves.

How do we solve the problem?

I think there are a few things that can be done. The first one is that we need to forget about the older generation, because I don’t think they will ever worry or want to worry about what the internet is doing with their data.

The second thing we need to is to make the data more visible to the user, what do companies keep, how do they keep it, and can it be automatically deleted. GDPR does some of this and Google, in my opinion, is the best at offering this but I don’t think it’s done well enough overall. Making it easier to get to your data is also a good next step on top of new regulations, at the moment most of it is buried under menus and sub-menus.

The final thing that I think needs to be done is education, from the youngest age possible, it should be added into the curriculum. Data safety is as important as online safety in general. Who you talk to, how you store your data, and what passwords you use.

It’s a long road ahead

We’re not going to fix this overnight, the above solutions aren’t even the definitive answers. There needs to be better data handling and there needs to be better understanding of data storage, we need to worry about data like we worry about passwords and not just give it out to anyone.

Things are getting better but there’s still an uphill climb to go and I don’t think we are even halfway there. With other competitors in the industry, which I talk about here, working their way up. These mistakes might soon spell the end to Facebook.

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