Cybersecurity and social media experts agree that tighter regulations are needed to restore trust in Facebook’s brand.
“These small vulnerabilities within their vast platform allow hackers to gain access,” said Virginia Tech professor Aaron Brantly, who teaches about cybersecurity matters. “Because Facebook collects so much information on its users, they can easily contribute to identify fraud.”
Last week, Facebook announced that upwards of 30 million users’ data — including search and location histories — were compromised in what the company says is an ongoing investigation. For 15 million accounts breached, attackers were able to access name, phone number and email, depending on what users had on their profiles. Hackers were also able to access birthdate, education, work, pages they follow, and most recent search history from 14 million other Facebook users.
Brantly points to the European Union’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, a law that “will make people aware of how their data is being stored and used” as an example of regulation done right. If implemented here in the U.S., companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Twitter would need to “notify of any breaches immediately.”
David Gerzof Richard, a communications professor at Emerson College who runs his own tech company, BIGfish PR, said that “transparency about what is hacked and how it was accessed” is key to restoring confidence.
“They created a very simple way to check if your account was hacked,” he said. “Had I been hacked, I would’ve erased my Facebook. Whatever happens at this point, I don’t know if I will have control over where my data is going. I would be so angry that a company will leave my information open like that.”
Richard said there’s an opportunity for Facebook to win the trust of its users and it comes from how the company handles the situation and whether it will “innovate the right methodology and processes to ensure it never happens again.”
Facebook is reportedly spending $1.75 million on ads to rebuild trust after a litany of scandals plagued the platform, including the Cambridge Analytica brouhaha.
At the end of the day, both academics agree that it will be difficult to abandon and delete your Facebook account.
“This is how they communicate in their communities,” said Brantly.