Not a week goes by without another news-worthy blunder from Facebook. The social media giant has been faithfully reporting one embarrassing move after another.
Most of these have been security related, and concerning their customers’ data.
While other companies like Google go the extra mile to protect their customer data and make it a huge priority in their business, Facebook continues to surprise us with some rather crude looking mistakes. The kind of mistakes that hackers like to exploit on a rainy day, when they have a few hours to kill, with a hot cup of coffee.
What’s been happening?
Recently, Facebook was caught asking users for their email account login. They were suspected of doing this in order to upload the users’ contacts into their system to expand the recommended friends feature.
For months, Facebook refused to comment until finally this week the company admitted to uploading 1.5 million email contacts into their system. They said that they are deleting them and are notifying those whose contacts were imported.
This is a huge mis-step for data privacy advocates everywhere. I remember only a few years ago when LinkedIn was using the same marketing strategy of asking for peoples’ contacts.
The difference here is that Facebook never asked the users for permission to do this. They just took their email login and password, stored it in their system, and went to town with it.
Making it a little worse..
What’s most concerning is that Facebook stores their customers’ passwords in plaintext. Just last month we found out that they stored hundreds of millions of passwords on an internal server and they were accessible to some of their employees.
A lot of breaches are internal and it’s really dangerous for a business to give this much access of their users' private data to their employees. This follows Facebook’s biggest blunder from October last year where hackers were able to steal access tokens of over 29 million Facebook accounts.
These security breaches with Facebook are inspiring other tech giants to focus on secure and deploy technology to protect their users, especially the ones that really can’t afford to ‘mess’ with the privacy issue.
Google, Apple and You
Google is one of those companies that puts security first. Google made its new Pixel 3 the most secure phone on the market today. Apple is inching right behind with not slightly less security but more privacy than Android.
Apple phones provide lots of features to secure user data and as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said: “The narrative that some companies will try to get you to believe is ‘I’ve got to take all of your data to make my service better.’ Well, that seems dubious and as they so sweetly put it at Vice news “ it’s a bunch of bunk” (Vice News)
So, what do you do to protect your social media accounts?
First, you should definitely change your passwords on all of these accounts. You can’t know if your account is one of the ones that was affected.
It’s also highly recommended to use two-factor authentication, login alert features, and a secure VPN. Also, make sure to check all of your privacy settings on all devices and social media networks and routinely go through the apps that you gave permissions to and delete the ones that you are no longer using.