Facebook troubles raise anxiety among Malaysians

These days, countless personal data are being compromised every minute

by KEVIN WONG / pic by BLOOMBERG

News about personal data being leaked is disturbing. However, living in the age of technology, it is almost unavoidable. These days, countless personal data are being compromised every minute.

In October 2017, some 46.2 million Malaysian mobile number subscribers’ personal data, such as identification card number, home address, as well as private details attached to their SIM card, were leaked.

Then in January this year, news about some 220,000 Malaysian organ donors and their next-of-kin’s personal data, which had been leaked online since September 2016, hit the headlines.

In light of this, along with the ongoing investigations of the Facebook Inc-Cambridge Analytica scandal, The Malaysian Reserve spoke to some Malaysians to get their views on the subject.

After learning about the Facebook-Cambridge scandal, 35-year-old marketing manager Danielle Leong said she has become more aware of data leaks.

“In some way or another, I feel the security of my personal data is constantly being compromised,” Leong said, adding that she has lost confidence in Facebook.

“I know there is money to be made from these data leaks, but I really hope that Facebook is not taking advantage of this.

“I would definitely delete my Facebook account, if they are unable to prevent more data leaks in the future.

Leong further said she would migrate to other social media platforms that safeguard the privacy of its members.

In addition, 27-year-old entrepreneur Mohd Shahrul Hussain said it would greatly concerned him if his personal data was breached and used for political gains.

“That would be unethical

and an infringement on one’s privacy,” he said.

Mohd Shahrul said the frequency of data breaches these days have rendered many with a more blasé attitude.

“I get weird phone calls and texts every day that it has come to a point where I don’t even bother to think where they have gotten my phone number from,” he said.

Mohd Shahrul said at the end of the day, we need to be mindful when using social media and applications and never reveal any personal details.

“Anything can happen in today’s technology,” he said.

Stanley Mohan, a 30-yearold freelancer, said he has never been too concerned with what Facebook does with his personal data because he does not share anything important about himself.

“We are still using telecommunication providers, despite our personal data literally going up for sale on forums.

“I am more concerned about companies that view the data as a holistic view of all social media users,” he said.

Mohan said anybody with social awareness must know that being a user requires a degree of self-censorship, or else be ready to get their personal data compromised.

The Facebook-Cambridge scandal involved 87 million Facebook users whose personal data was found compromised by the latter, a political consulting group, since 2014.

The data was collected via thisisyourdigitallife, an app developed by data scientist Aleksandr Kogan, which he presented to Cambridge to be used to influence the opinion of voters on behalf of politicians.

Facebook, however, said the app only collected the personal details of survey participants and not all its users.

Last month, former Cambridge employee Christopher Wylie blew the whistle on his former employer by exposing the volume of data stolen, as well as the communications between Facebook and the political representatives who hired Cambridge to gain votes.

The scandal ignited an outrage that led to discussions on the ethical standards for social media companies, political consulting organisations and politicians.

Consumer advocates have also called for greater consumer protection online, as well as the right to privacy.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has since been interrogated by the US House and Senate on Facebook’s handling of its user information.