Internet users are mulling whether they should get rid of their Facebook accounts in wake of reports that private data collected from the social media site was misused during the 2016 U.S. election.
Using the hashtag #DeleteFacebook, many wondered whether long-running concerns over Facebook privacy had reached a boiling point.
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The social media site is facing international backlash from weekend reports that the private information of more than 50 million users was accessed by a firm that worked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
Among those speaking out against the social media giant were some notable personalities, such as actor Kumail Nanjiani and Blink-182 band member Mark Hoppus.
University of Toronto assistant professor Alex Hanna, who studies social media and data collection, explained that while deleting Facebook is an option, it’s a little more complicated than that.
“It’s an option, it may mitigate the risk that Facebook users would be at, but I know that it’s not really a viable option for many people,” Hanna said, explaining that it has become a “primary source of communication” for people around the world.
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Many users also have years of memories and photos stored on Facebook that would be difficult to part with.
And, as The Guardian points out, cleansing an online presence on Facebook is even more difficult considering that other apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp are also part of the company.
Several users added that simply deleting Facebook is not a solution to the internet’s privacy problem.
Other social media sites, and internet companies such as Google, also gather information on users.
Deactivating vs. deleting
Those considering deleting Facebook profiles were warned online that deactivating an account is not the same as getting rid of it completely.
Permanently deleting an account is irreversible, and a completely new profile will have to be created if you choose to sign up again.
Deactivating a profile is more temporary, and information remains stored on Facebook.
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Staying on — but enhancing security
Those who are concerned about privacy, but don’t want to leave the site, can enhance their security by taking a look at the apps that can access profile information.
“By default, a lot of your Facebook information is open to being shared with apps and platforms outside Facebook,” Gennie Gebhart, a researcher at the Electronic Freedom Foundation, explained.
He added that revoking access some apps have may remove some Facebook functions from accounts, but it may be worth it.
— With files from Global News reporter Patrick Cain