FMP: Online Trust

After watching The great Hack I felt compelled to look further into other know personal data breech’s and found this article on an experiment conducted by Facebook to manipulate a selected number of people. The Atlantic calling it the secret mood manipulation experiment.

Few Facebook users would expect that Facebook would change their News Feed in order to manipulate their emotional state. However, for one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed almost 700,000 Facebook users news feeds. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analysed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves. This manipulation was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it.  The experiment is almost certainly legal. In the company’s current terms of service, Facebook users relinquish the use of their data for data analysis, testing and research. Is it ethical, though? Since news of the study first emerged, many people have expressed their outrage and distress with this unknown study.

Another personal data breech happened in October 2018, when Google announced that it would shut down Google+ because the company had discovered through an internal audit that a bug had exposed 500,000 users’ data for about three years. Google later announced that an additional bug in a Google+ API exposed user data from 52.5 million accounts. Google found the flaw, and corrected it. However, this means that app developers would have had improper user data access for six days. Google says it doesn’t have any evidence that the data was misused during that time, or that Google+ was compromised by a third party. The bug exposed Google+ profile data that a users hadn’t made public—things like name, age, email address, and occupation—and some profile data shared privately between users that shouldn’t have been accessible. “This didn’t impact passwords or financial data, but it did give the ability to extract large amounts of information like email addresses and profile data,” says David Kennedy, CEO of the penetration testing and incident response consultancy TrustedSec.

Looking into these personal data breech’s from very well known sites its actually quite frightening. Many people put their trust in these huge sites with their personal information but why. Why do we have this automatic trust with online sites? This research shows not every site can be trusted and more people need to be aware of this. I do however realise that you can’t hide completely from the online world, not in today society anyway but I think its important to make others aware of the dangerous of having all your personal data available online.


Sources Used:

(accessed 4th March 2020)

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