Note: This was featured as part of our Web Wednesday segment on Charleston’s 105.5 The Bridge. You can catch us every Wednesday morning at 8:20 am ET for your dose of social media & digital marketing news. You can listen to the segment below:

Since Facebook is free to use, the site has gotten creative with its revenue strategies. One of Facebook’s business models involves collecting user data and selling it to third-party companies. The information is gathered from third-party apps that link to your Facebook profile or through your general activity on Facebook.

In the past few weeks, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has attracted lots of media attention and has caused some panic among Facebook’s users. The complex situation began with an employee at Cambridge University who collected data from over 50 million Facebook users to predict certain behaviors, such as the results of the Brexit vote and the 2016 presidential election. Facebook has since suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform for the company’s misuse of data.

The company developed a quiz app called “thisismydigitallife” that it deployed on Facebook for the purpose of gathering data and developing psychological profiles of Facebook users. 270,000 Facebook users took the quiz, and Cambridge Analytica was able to build a database of over 50 million users by accessing the personal information of the quiz users and their Facebook friends. Although the company has been ordered to delete all of the data it collected, some users’ profiles may still be compromised.

In response to the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Mark Zuckerberg announced: “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t, then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

The CEO has been called to Capitol Hill to testify about the controversy. Four lawsuits have been filed against Facebook, and the company has seen a dip in its stock.

2014 Changes

In 2014, a Facebook update restricted app developers from gathering information about a user’s Facebook friends. So, if you signed up for an app and gave it permission to access your data, the app’s developers couldn’t access the same information from your friends who had not given the app explicit permission. However, despite this rule, Cambridge Analytica was able to access data from users and from their friends.

New Restrictions

Facebook plans to implement new restrictions in an effort to reassure users and better protect their data. If the users haven’t used the app in three months, developers will lose access to any user data they may have previously received. App data collected from users will be limited to their name, email address, and profile photo. Finally, private data, such as user posts, can only be accessed by developers through a contract with Facebook and with user approval.

Additional changes will be announced in the next few days.

Who is At Risk

Of Facebook’s 2 billion users, only around 50 million were personally compromised by the Analytica data breach. However, the primary target were users in the U.K. and in America. Although the overall percentage of affected users may be small, users cannot know if their information is safe or not.

The personal information of both older and younger users can be taken advantage of by third-party app developers. Older users may not understand the technological capabilities of the app or the type of information they are choosing to give out by accepting the terms of the app. Younger users often lack the patience to read long contracts, which means they are likely to click “I agree” without realizing what they have consented to.

How This Impacts Businesses

Although the privacy breach is concerning for Facebook users, business owners don’t need to worry about the resulting changes to the website. These changes should not affect the current organic algorithm FB has in place, or Paid Ads. Facebook has announced that it is no longer allowing advertisers on its site to utilize third-party data companies for information. This will have a greater impact on large corporations than small businesses.

That said, we will be keeping a close eye on updates over the course of the next several weeks.

Wondering if Facebook’s changes will change your online advertising strategy? Are you interested in learning more about Cambridge Analytica data breach? Give our expert team a call at (888) 632-4499 or through email by clicking here.

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