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Social Media Apps: The Personal Data You Might Not Know You are Sharing

July 19, 2019

Social media—a tool, a way to connect, a place to create, a place to share, but users have growing fears about what they might not know they are really sharing.

Mississippi State University's Director for the Center for Cyber Innovation, Drew Hamilton, and Research Engineer with CCI, Doug Girault, gives some advice on how to protect the information you might not know you gave permission to use.

It’s the latest app to take social media by storm. Faceapp lets users transform their photos into an older or younger version of themselves.

But concerns are rising about what you are signing away, and who else may be using those pictures.

“So the terms and agreement can specify a number of different things, and it’s really company-specific, but then problem you run into is a lot of people don’t actually read them and you just blindly hit yes, and that’s either because they’re long and the users don’t want to or they just everybody is using it, and they want to use it too so just like whatever fine okay,” said Russell Girault, research engineer with the Center for Cyber Innovation at Mississippi State University.

What could you be sharing when using social media?

It could be your location, data from your phone, or access to your photos.

“There is sometimes an assumption of privacy that just doesn’t that doesn’t exist. I think that’s the concern that we need to look at is lack of privacy,” said Drew Hamilton, director of the Center for Cyber Innovation at Mississippi State University.

That privacy becomes a bigger concern when you post a photo.

Thanks to that “accept” button, many social media apps, including Faceapp, can use it as their own.

“We have seen this verbiage used in a few other more famous social media apps as well. The way we’ve kind of seen that play out is, the social media, they own certain rights to it. They’re are allowed to use it for their promotional purposes without necessarily having to compensate you or the person who produced it,” said Girault.

Even though you may not remember that unflattering post or bad review, Drew Hamilton said companies can store your posts and personal information, and that can cause more issues.

“People are getting tired of hearing how many companies have been hacked. Whether it’s large corporations, stores, or whatever so anything you post on the internet may wind up being compromised because of the companies that has that information may be penetrated by someone else,” said Hamilton.

He wants to remind people that what you post on the internet is forever.

“I would not post anything on the Internet that I would not want to see on the front page of the New York Times,” said Hamilton.

Girault said he doesn’t want to scare people away from social media, just encourage them to do their research and learn to protect themselves.

By Riley Livingston