We all use Facebook in different ways—maybe you get on it solely to watch viral videos of pandas shared by your friends, or to stay updated on your sister who just moved to Nebraska, or to learn about trending topics, or maybe you consistently use it to update everyone on the status of your dying Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree (which everyone on Facebook told you to buy in the first place).

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter why you get on Facebook regularly, but if you do utilize Facebook in a way that requires personal information, then the recent scandal concerning Cambridge Analytica’s data privacy breach may have you wondering if it’s safe to hit that login button or not.

Are you updated on Zuckerberg’s appearance before the House? Has Facebook learned its lesson about protecting its users? Should you be worried?

Here’s a refresher on the scandal between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

In 2014, Cambridge Analytica began collecting private information from almost 87 million Facebook users in order to conduct political research and profile voters in certain areas. In 2015, it was reported that one candidate was utilizing the information breached by Cambridge Analytica and that users had no idea their information was being taken and outsourced. In 2018’s more recent developments, one of the company’s employees blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica and its massive amounts of harvested data, which has blown open a many-layered and messy investigation into Facebook and its privacy breach.

Facebook has since admitted to a potential flaw in its search function and account recovery functions, which may have exposed profile information of many of its users.

The public is also learning that after discovering the breach by Cambridge Analytica in 2015, Facebook merely asked the firm to delete its stolen user information and dropped the case there. None of the millions of users whose data had been stolen were informed, and Facebook didn’t notify the Federal Trade Commission of the occurrence.

These were some major oversights for a company with over two billion users worldwide.

Zuckerberg was reported saying, “[I]t’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm, as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

In the wake of this serious data breach for such a large company, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been put front and center. On April 10th, he was scheduled to testify before the Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary Committees, and the following day was scheduled to go before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

His hearing shed light on Facebook’s critical issues over data privacy.

Because users will continue to want to know: Does Facebook take data privacy seriously?

Facebook “likes” your data

Billions of users across the globe use Facebook every day to do millions of different things. Anytime a user “likes” a page, clicks on an ad, or shares a piece of media, that information could be acquired and utilized to find the best ads that will most likely get the most clicks from that particular user.

It’s all about marketing, and with so many people surfing its interface, Facebook is the most desirable place for companies and industries to advertise, sell, and influence.

This is why a large-scale data breach is such a huge deal—companies who are stealing data are getting a gold mine of valuable information from an interface that sees billions of people doing billions of different things every day.

Just think about all the interactions you’ve had on Facebook, all the websites you’ve shared and pages you’ve clicked on, all the information you’ve updated, and all the free accounts you’ve created by quickly and easily clicking “log in through Facebook”…have you thought about it?

Now consider this: every one of those actions is a portal for companies to dive into and explore the weird and wonderful potentials of user data (cue Twilight Zone’s title theme song).

This means that enough information in the hands of a single company can lead to enough power to influence large demographics—like in a presidential election, for example.

Because when your entire life (or at least some of it) is updated, photographed, and uploaded onto Facebook, that’s more than enough information for companies to “know” you and know how to influence you.

Which is why Facebook really likes your updates, shares, and “likes”—it means more data for them.

But now, in the wake of a scandal that has been detrimental to Facebook’s integrity and reputation, the company is trying to seek out a resolution and ensure all users that actions will be taken to restore their safety and privacy while using Facebook.

Here’s something we’re wondering: how long will it take to restore the public’s trust in Facebook?

Has Facebook learned its lesson and are changes being made?

Zuckerberg made a public apology during his testimony in front of lawmakers, which is nice, but what we really want to know is how Facebook will make the appropriate changes to its interface in order to better protect its users in the future.

There are some of us who might be ready to simply throw in the Facebook towel and unplug from social media for a while, but there are many other users who truly enjoy the features of Facebook and the social interaction it enables for friends and family across the globe.

So for those dedicated Facebook users, what changes will the company make in order to improve data protection, and how will those changes directly affect them?

Facebook released a document in which it states the course of action it will be taking in order to protect user data. One of the changes that will be made is a limit on what types of data can be collected by outside businesses—which means, for some Facebook users who click on things without thinking, that permission will have to be granted for any apps to collect user information beyond names and addresses.

This means that Facebook users will have more power in where their information goes, but they need to be aware of what they’re doing if they ever click “allow.”

Facebook also said that it is disallowing outside companies or organizations to gather religious or political information about its users, and it will no longer use third-party data to supplement their own data for ads.

Additionally, Facebook will be looking into thousands of apps to find any evidence of improper use of data.

These pledges of improvement come at a time when the European Union is putting into effect its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is a law that limits the collection of user data and requires companies to obtain consent from their customers before using their data.

In fact, Zuckerberg has said that Facebook’s users will be allowed the same privacy required under the GDPR, no matter where they’re located.

These changes will take time and, undoubtedly, more investigations will have to be made, but these steps will hopefully bring some reassurance to current Facebook users.

What to look out for in the upcoming weeks

Of the users whose information was stolen by Cambridge Analytica, the majority of them are in the US.

How can you find out if your information was affected by the breach?

Notifications are being deployed to all users that will either direct the user to change their privacy settings, or it will notify them that their information was compromised and will direct the user to learn more about how they’re affected.

If you haven’t adjusted or even thought about your Facebook privacy settings recently, now is probably a good time to change that, especially since Facebook is still in the process of looking into and suspending any companies who have misused user information.

Most recently, Facebook has suspended the analytics company called CubeYou, as well as a Canadian firm called AggregateIQ. Both companies are under investigation by authorities for having violated privacy law. There is increasing skepticism over whether Facebook tended to take a “blind eye” approach to companies’ dishonest tactics.

How many other companies will Facebook expose and boot?

We have to only wait and see, as such a large wake of allegations and scandals won’t be blowing over until a solid resolution is achieved.

As Facebook tries to rebound from this fiasco, now is a good time to learn about ways to protect your online data so that, in the future, you can be informed and aware about potential risks.