While everyone is looking to lay blame in the most recently data mining scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, it’s time to take a close look at ALL of your online profiles and scrutinize the safety of your information.

Since the dawn of the age of social media for all ages and career paths – when Facebook began you had to have a college or university email address to sign up – we as a general society have been a little too trusting with our personal information. Sure, we demanded stellar protection for our online shopping and banking, but with our middle names, birthdays, political preferences, professions, and photos not so much. Why should you care?

One of the most troubling issues with the Facebook scandal is that users did not explicitly give either party permission to share and use data scooped up from profiles. However, there are times where you may have given a platform or app permission to use your data. It’s all laid out in the Privacy Policy and Terms & Services you agreed to when you signed up for anything from an Instagram account to entering a contest. Look for a section within the terms that talks about third-party data collection, and how the company you’re signing on with plans to use your personal information for marketing. Tech companies around termsconditonsthe world have been translating their contracts into plain language so that users who aren’t law graduates understand what they’re agreeing to because they understand the importance of these agreements and supportive customer service. Received an email in the last year that says “We’ve updated our terms and services to make them easier to understand”? That’s what’s up!

You’ll notice we called the terms a “contract”, because Terms & Services IS a contract, complete with legal warnings and all. You have to check a box before signing on that says “I agree to the terms and conditions outlined in…” and this will include a link you can click to read for yourself exactly what you’re agreeing to. And clicking that box then moving forward with the sign-up? That’s the equivalent of your signature. To select “I agree” and click “Register” without thoroughly reading the terms you’re agreeing to is the same as signing your name with a pen on a contract without reading it. No longer can we tell ourselves, “Well I can’t use the app if I don’t agree, so I’ll just agree.” Know what you’re agreeing to.

Of course, you can read words until they blur, but that won’t stop evildoers and those who think it better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission from mischief and more. To further protect yourself be aware of what information you share and how others can see it. How much of your personal information is available right now? Is there enough for someone to use to commit identity fraud? Is there enough that can be collected to target advertising just for your tastes? Is any of that a bad thing? That’s up to you. How much information do you really need to share? Review the Terms and Privacy agreements, then go through your profiles and seriously consider removing information that isn’t required.

Finally, we have to talk about quizzes and mobile apps. When you take a quiz via a social media platform and you want to share it with your friends you are likely to get a permission request. Read that carefully. Likewise, when you download an app on to your phone you’re going to get permission requests. Read those permissions. In both cases you often have the opportunity to deselect some of those permissions. Does the app really need access to your phone calls, contacts, and files? If it’s an app that enhances those things, then yes, however…read the terms and conditions. When in doubt, decline.
We can, and should, point fingers and demand respect for privacy. That doesn’t mean we can’t be our own heroes!

Learn about online safety for your business with Jelly Triangle. Our Website TLC includes security backups and an overall website checkup to ensure you’re providing your customers with top notch service across the board. Call us at 519-624-8888 to book your complimentary consultation.


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