Love you, love your data

Love being online? Then make sure you love your data too

Why a small tick can avoid a big ticking off…

Right then, here are a few quick-fire questions for you:

Who doesn’t love something that’s all about them?

Are you on social media?

Do you like a good quiz?

Do you enjoy being the victim of a good scam (or any scam for that matter)?

And finally, what if it’s a good quiz but also a scam at the same time?

And the winner is… not you

You know the ones, those you see all the time online where you’re invited to take part for fun and then invite your friends. Sometimes it’s a quiz; other times it’s a personality test or something similar.

Yet, although they may all appear to be different, they do share a few things in common…

That’s right, apart from the bit of fun you get out of it, there’s never usually any prize on offer. Well, not for you anyway. But there is for the organiser: your personal data!

And you know what happens then…

Love you – love your data

You’ll know that we’ve mentioned scams in some of our previous blogs and to continue this month’s theme on loving your data, we want to highlight how easy it is to fall prey to this type of online skulduggery and, more importantly, how you can avoid it.

So, hands up if you’re on Facebook. Why? Because that’s where a lot of this sort of stuff happens.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re at home on your sofa or having a few minutes respite at your office desk – it can happen to anyone and the outcome is always the same: you fill in your details (usually your name and email address as a bare minimum; or, in the most extreme cases, your name, email, age, gender, interests, financial demographic – you name it) and all this personal data gets sucked up, stored and sold to unseen third parties.

Usually giving access to all your other Facebook details too, it helps those third parties build a digital profile of you that can then be used to predict and possibly exploit your future behaviours through psychological targeting. Not good.

Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its alleged roles in the Brexit vote and U.S. presidential election? Its misuse of data is reported to have involved harvesting the online details of up to 50 million Facebook users illegally (i.e. without their consent). Definitely not good.

And much of it came about through what appeared to be an appealing and harmless online personality analysis.

Keep your data safe! Look for the blue verification badge.

Remember, anything you do on the internet is a bit like taking a personality quiz – everywhere you click reveals something about you. And remember too, you’re not the only one who sees the results.

So how do you stop it?

Well, short of coming offline altogether, one of the best things to look for on Facebook is the blue verification badge.

It lets you know that a page or profile of public interest is a genuine and authentic account, and is applied to eligible brands, media organisations and public figures. Its eligibility is based on a variety of factors, such as account completeness, policy compliance and public interest.

Other things you can look out for (and not just on Facebook) are whether you recognise the name of the company promoting the link, doing a search on it if you’re unsure, checking for a padlock on its website to see if it’s a secure domain, and seeing if there are proper contact details for you to get in touch.

None of these on their own are definitive proof of authenticity, but they’ll help you make a more informed judgement.

We’re here if you need us

It’s still well over a month until April Fool’s Day comes around and unsuspecting victims everywhere fall prey to a litany of pranks, scams and japes, so let’s keep it that way.

Just remember – if something appears to be too good to be true, there’s probably a catch. So if you have any concerns, please get in touch.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve just had the offer of a free lunch.

The information and remarks provided in this article represent insight and guidance for best practice which is correct or valid or appropriate at time of publication.

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Supported by Business Resilience secured by OxLEP Business