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Examining Risks Regarding Privacy: Social Media

With the popularity of technology in our constantly advancing world, social media platforms and dating apps are ubiquitous. People have become quite dependent on social media apps daily because of their convenience and offering of social interaction, enabling people to connect and communicate seamlessly. Unfortunately, among the widespread use and popularity of social media platforms, user privacy is often overlooked. The issue of user privacy demands detailed consideration since users often share personal data carelessly with these social media platforms when creating accounts. Although seemingly harmless, this sensitive information users share is often exploited by platforms for commercial or other purposes, posing significant threats to the privacy and security of social media application users.


      An integral issue of social media platforms and dating apps is the amount of personal information users share, willingly and unknowingly, with these platforms. This personal data often includes a user’s age, race, gender, name, location, interests, and other online activity. These platforms were strategically created with intelligent and complex algorithms to study user behavior. While this strategic creation may result in an enhanced user experience that is tailored to individual likes and dislikes, it can also have adverse outcomes. An example of this is the notion that some social media platforms identify users based on their racial and ethnic preferences and supply them with content based on this identification. This practice is quite discriminatory and perpetuates biases, especially on social media platforms such as dating apps. Another example of the risks of apps having personal user data is that the apps can misuse the personal data by selling it to third-party advertisers without the explicit consent of the user.  Further, if the security of the platform is compromised, then hackers can locate this sensitive personal data and use it to commit fraudulent acts such as stealing the identities of users.


      Another issue is that these social media platforms often fail to take sufficient preventive measures to protect their users’ personal and sensitive information. In recent years, several infamous examples of data breaches occurred. One example of this was the 2018 scandal committed by the company Cambridge Analytica, in which the company violated Facebook's policies and sold personal data of Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal data without user consent and used the data for political purposes. Another instance of an enormous data scandal was the case regarding the online dating service Ashley Madison. This 2015 scandal occurred when a group of hackers infiltrated and leaked the personal data of millions of users. This data breach was so significant and impactful that Ashley Madison settled with its users in a class-action lawsuit brought against them in 2019 for $11.2 million.


      While concerns regarding the security and privacy of user data on social media platforms exist, apprehensions regarding the physical safety of users on these platforms are also notable. For example, user data containing locations or other sensitive information can be utilized by hackers, stalkers, or other malicious actors to track specific individuals down. Equally concerning, many people on dating apps have been “catfished,” meaning that a potential suitor lied about their identity to convince others on the app that they are someone else. Dating apps can also expose users to physical harm, as they may unknowingly match with someone who has a criminal record or is a threat to others.


      When examining how users can protect themselves on social media platforms, specifically regarding personal privacy and security, myriad responsibilities exist. Social media platforms have the responsibility to exert maximum efforts in order to protect the personal data of their users and prevent it from misuse. Users also should be aware of the risks associated with social media use and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Users can review privacy settings on social media platforms to limit the amount of information each app can collect. Additionally, users should choose a unique password so that if an account for one online platform is compromised, it won’t affect all of the user’s online accounts.


      Here at Aviv Lazar&Co, we are aware of the risks associated with security and privacy on social media platforms. We offer legal services to individuals negatively impacted by the issues surrounding privacy and security on these platforms. Further, we offer cutting-edge legal services relating to Co-Existence Agreements. Our law firm is one of the top law offices in Israel (DUN’S 100 and BDI CODE Ranked) and has expertise in this field of interest. We are eager to assist you in all your legal matters. We will supply you and your business with the best-in-market innovative legal solutions and business consultancy services.


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