By Tikwiza Nkowane|www.amdlawgroup.com
This past week stirred a major storm for Facebook and the lack of trust with their security on the social media platform. Will businesses start looking away from marketing on Facebook and their associated platforms, to other competing platforms like LinkedIn? How safe do businesses now feel as a result of knowing that the Cambridge Analytica breach which was discovered in late 2015, but is only now surfacing, three years later?
The current Facebook security breach relates to data obtained between 2013 and 2015, where Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica, a British company to harvest profile data from millions of Facebook users without the users’ permission. The data was used to build a large targeted marketing database and through personality profiling, which in turn was able to offer its profiling system to political campaigns. As Facebook also contained links to third-party developers, Cambridge Analytica was able to collect data from those third-parties linked to Facebook, and also from Facebook users’ friends network on Facebook. This meant that the extent of data obtained far-reaching.
It was only in 2015 when Facebook finally updated its third-party API to block access to data that Cambridge Analytica was collecting. Over two years of data collecting by Cambridge Analytica has now shown to be a major blow to Facebook and its security.
Facebook is described as a “social media” and “social networking service”. It has over 2.2 billion active users and also has other well-known platforms and subsidiaries, such as Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp where data is shared easily across all these platforms. When you sign up to one of Facebook’s platforms, your data can be shared amongst the other subsidiaries, due to its parent company being Facebook. It creates a sense of ease, if you use Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp, as you do not have to fill your personal data over and over again. But what does this do for security?
Security is a major issue with all social media platforms. The larger a company grows, the more social media platforms or subsidiaries are created, the more your data will spread and is likely to be released. This is clearly an issue for data protection and security. With businesses using Facebook as a means for advertising, this breach will clearly have consequences on the use of the platform for their business.
Let us now consider LinkedIn, which is described more as a “professional networking” platform, it has over 530 million members and no other social media platforms where data is shared or linked. It clearly sounds less risky in terms of personal data being disseminated at a rapid speed! It gets better. LinkedIn’s parent company is the Microsoft Corporation, which as we all know produces computer software. The reliability in products produced by Microsoft is based on the security they offer in using their software to store data, whether it is in a bank, business or on your laptop or computer at home. Microsoft is one of the largest producers of computer software, which inevitably means that they are more and more aware of the security risks and flaws that can happen to their products. The risk of personal data being hacked and obtained from banks, companies and businesses is higher. Microsoft and its products are still not perfect in terms of reducing security breaches, but because of how many companies use their software, they are more likely to be able to contain a breach quicker than a social media company, whose goal is to connect with individuals across multiple different platforms with ease.
So, can LinkedIn be seen as a “safer” place for businesses to market themselves? In my opinion possibly. Businesses trust companies where information is stored, secured and is not easily accessible via other mediums.
As a business looking to market and target audiences, what all businesses want is to maintain confidentially, privacy, and trust both for the platform they use, in addition to their contacts and clients. As a social media company, the goal is to connect socially and to use it more as a platform for social interaction rather than “professional networking”. If a company as big as Facebook permitted data collection from friends of app users, where does it stop?
Security breaches and hacks can occur on all platforms, whether social or professional. However, in my opinion, using platforms that are restricted or small, in terms of the services they offer, are clearly able to maintain any breaches quickly and deal with any complications that may arise. Microsoft has created their brand based on security of their products and trust. So, why not trust LinkedIn to be in line with its parent company?
The class actions recently filed against Facebook are grounds for concern as to how personal data is protected. It will be interesting to see if businesses will now gravitate to using LinkedIn for marketing their business because they are afraid of how data will be stored and protected in Facebook.