Alleged Facebook hacking: Stop posting private information online – IT experts warn

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Some Information Technology (IT) experts on Friday advised social media users to stop posting personal information online.

They made the appeal in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
The experts were reacting to the alleged harvesting and use of data on Facebook by a British data firm, Cambridge Analytica.

The allegedly harvested data were reportedly used to direct messages for U.S. President Donald Trumps’ political campaigns and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom.

According to Mr Rogba Adeoye, a former President, Information Technology Systems and Security Professionals, the allegation is a wakeup call for social media users to understand the implications of what they do online.

Adeoye said: “We need to stop this habit of putting everything we do on Facebook; some people are in the habit of placing every minute detail of their lives on social media.
“This has to stop, especially, with the recent exposures on Facebook.’’

He said that although it was good to identify with social media platforms, users should be aware of the inherent dangers of exposing personal data online.

“While using search engines and the social media, data can easily be harvested by anybody that needs it, provided the person can do a proper coding, which is called hacking,’’ Adeoye told NAN.

Mr Jide Awe, the Chairman, Conferences Committee, Nigeria Computer Society, noted that social media had yet to be regulated.

Awe said that there was the need to remind social media users that they would be responsible for whatever they could do online.

“Many people on social media have yet to realise the danger they can face when they expose so many details online.
“People are yet to realise that once a product is free for use, the user is most likely the product.

“That is what people are finding out with the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica revelations.
“They are taking what people put on Facebook and using it for commercial purposes; so, we need to be very careful about what we post online,’’ he advised.
Awe told NAN that nothing was 100 percent private online.

“Users need to guard their privacy; use of social media is not compulsory.’’

Mr Emma Okonji, the Chairman, Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association of Nigeria (NITRA), said that the allegations were a wake-up call to Facebook and its users.

Okonji told NAN that the allegations showed online insecurity and online fraud.

He urged that the issues be addressed thoroughly.

“Once confidentiality of information is not guaranteed, it is difficult to determine what the exposed information will be used for.

“We hope that online insecurity and online fraud will be securely dealt with by this revelations,’’ the NITRA chairman said.

Meanwhile, Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has said that the social media platform had taken steps to crack down on abuses to ensure the safety of data on its platform.

Zuckerberg said in a statement on Thursday that the steps were also to ensure that users trust was gained.

“We are announcing some important steps for the future of our platform.

“These steps involve taking action on potential past abuse and putting stronger protections in place to prevent future abuse.

“Protecting people’s information is the most important thing we do on Facebook.

“What happened with Cambridge Analytica was a breach of Facebook’s trust.

“More importantly, it was a breach of the trust people place in Facebook to protect their data when they share it,’’ Zuckerberg said.