Facebook is heading for its second decade at the head of the social media world, albeit under a rising tide of controversy. Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild is still the archetype of the social network in the public's consciousness but Facebook's popularity has fluctuated in recent years, as concerns about user privacy and data usage come to dominate the conversation.
In 2021, the number of people who had a Facebook account fell for the first time since 2004, when the website launched as a Harvard University-only resource. While this plunge may have seemed inevitable (Facebook's userbase represents almost half the world's internet-ready population), the company's data-for-profit model has repeatedly landed Zuckerberg in hot water with US politicians.
Online privacy is, of course, one of the biggest problems facing society as we begin the new decade. While most of us might consider ourselves to be savvy web users, the reality is that we're quite happy to throw away our information on a whim. This can result in a raft of issues, ranging from identity theft to cyberbullying. Sadly, in many cases, the blame often falls on the victim rather than the perpetrator.
An infographic made for Stop Cyberbullying Day by Express VPN indicates that online abuse violates the terms of service of every social media platform out there yet it's a problem that doesn't seem to go away. ExpressVPN notes that everything from photographs, location tagging, and comments can be used against social media users depending on what their security settings look like. Security Measures
By showing such wanton disregard for our data, any mention of safety and privacy from social media giants can seem a mite hypocritical – and all the evidence suggests that users aren't falling for the ruse. Facebook is the least trusted social network of them all, according to an analysis of nine platforms by Business Insider , with even newcomer TikTok ranking higher than Zuckerberg's website.
Perhaps more worrying is that a combined 66% of respondents to a study by Tinuiti either couldn't tell the difference between the security measures on one social media and those on another or had“no clue” either way. This brings us back to a point hinted at earlier, that people who fall victim to cybercrime are not necessarily to blame for failing to secure themselves. The same paper claimed that half of the respondents hold tech companies responsible for their safety when online.
So, what's the solution? While legislation like GDPR has made the internet a little more secure in Europe, there's no denying the fact that handing over our data is a daily necessity – yet there isn't much of a framework in place for keeping it safe. Social networks may also employ sneaky language to catch people off-guard.
A good example involves the distinction Facebook makes between selling data outright and giving it away to business partners. These statements are usually accompanied by some great benefits for the user, such as more relevant adverts or a better overall experience online. In either case, though, our data is being thrown out into the wide expanse of the internet, where we no longer have control of it.
All that doom and gloom aside, social media shouldn't be especially unsafe for anybody (fingers crossed) but it can't hurt to go over your security settings the next time you log into your accounts.
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