Facebook, FOMO, and reactions to data breaches

In March 2018, media publications worldwide began outing British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica for unethical business practices. Beyond the horrifying admission to use of bribery, honey traps and prostitutes to discredit politicians opposing their clients, Cambridge Analytica was revealed to have accessed some 50 million users’ personal data without their permission or awareness via a third party Facebook app called “This is Your Digital Life.”

Surprisingly, the massive news story seemed to do minimal damage to Facebook itself, with the internet’s collective focus on the meme-worthy aspects of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to US Congress, and an apparent continuation of usage.

Zephoria reports that there are still more than 2.27 billion monthly active Facebook users (a 10% increase year over year) in Q3 2018 and 1.49 billion daily active users (a 9% increase year over year) as of September 2018.

In a Caddle survey following the breaking news, 66% of respondents claimed to have heard of or read at least a little bit about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal; 19% stated that they would delete Facebook due to an information breach; and yet only 4% actually deleted Facebook following the news break. Most surprising is that 90% of the respondents admitted to keeping their Facebook profile despite the news.

The number one reason users stated they would delete Facebook? If Facebook were participating in illegal activities. The second reason? If family or friends stopped using it. And the number one reason for users who keep returning to Facebook daily: to keep up with friends and family.

User prioritization of “staying in the loop” should come as no surprise – the whole point of social networks, originally anyway, was to see what’s going on with your friends and family…but is this trending fear of missing out (FOMO) leaving you at risk of privacy breaches or worse?

For a comprehensive guide on the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data breach, as well as how to secure yourself following the scandal, be sure to check out this guide from Sarah Perez and Zack Whittaker at Tech Crunch, and remember to be safe when you’re being social!