Social media users need to be cautious

The Northern Star Editorial Board urges social media users on all platforms to take Facebook’s recent exploitation of user information as a sign to consider their online presence. Though the Board feels personal information should not be abused for any reason, we seem to be in a time of cultural war in which people will collect any personal information available to get a leg up over their competition.

More than 50 million Facebook users, who thought they had control over their social media experience, learned their private information had been harvested and sold to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, according to a March 17 New York Times article.

The data obtained by Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining and analysis company, came from public information users posted and did not include any passwords or sensitive pieces of information, according to a March 17 official Facebook statement. Cambridge Analytica used users’ interests, relationships, ads clicked on, videos and more to identify users’ personalities with the intent of influencing user behavior, according to the New York Times Article.

“Manipulation is key for people trying to influence a specific ideal,” said senior geography major Freddy Segura. “It’s no surprise this happened, just look at how a search on Google will then spam you with ads on Facebook. It’s all for money.”

It is unacceptable for this information to be taken and used for any gain, but social media users are responsible for posting all data captured. Everyone involved gave their consent, according to Facebook’s official statement by more than likely not reading the Terms and Conditions, pushing the ‘allow’ button every time it popped up, and all information posted, liked and shared was put on the internet by only the user. This is why the Editorial Board encourages everyone to look at their online profile and personality and to consider their online presence more seriously by limiting how much personal information they share.

Cambridge Analytica didn’t hack or breach Facebook; users willingly consented somewhere down the line to allow their information to be used, according to the March 17 Facebook statement.

The internet does not need privacy laws put into place when users are not doing their due diligence to protect their own information. Users must be responsible for themselves as not only is that information vulnerable to be stolen, it is also out there representing their character to the world.

Cambridge Analytica, the firm hired to collect Facebook user identity traits to target certain audiences with specific ads, is not the only source guilty of political corruption through social media. Facebook was not the only site that found itself attacked by propaganda as Twitter and Tumblr have both posted statements to their sites admitting to finding Russian-linked bots and since removing the accounts.

To view a complete list on what Facebook collects from its users, visit Facebook data archives at — here users are also able to download a copy of their own data.