Science & Technology

‘Phenomenally Low’ trust in Facebook among Aussies Even Before Cambridge Analytica

AUSTRALIANS flat-out don’t trust Facebook anymore, four-in-five users fear their information is being hacked and more than half think Mark Zuckerberg should reimburse them if he’s pilfering their personal data for profit.

Just 15 per cent of the population are confident Facebook will keep their personal data secure, according to the national YouGov Galaxy survey that found the level of trust in Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth was “phenomenally low”.

Facebook is giving its privacy tools a makeover as it reels from criticisms over its data practices. Picture: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

And the survey was taken before the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed sensitive information was being harvested from more than 50 million Facebook profiles to swing the US election.

About 80 per cent of people fear their “identity could be stolen” through Facebook.

More than half think they should be paid if their information is onsold by social media networks too.

“If the survey was re-run now … the level of trust in Facebook would have slumped significantly — and it was starting from a low benchmark,” YouGov Galaxy managing director David Briggs said.

The survey — commissioned by News Corp Australia — found 62 per cent of Australians do not trust Facebook.

And 84 per cent say they should be able to opt out of having their information stored.

“Facebook built a platform, they don’t really know how it’s being used by bad actors and don’t really know how to control that,” said Associate Professor Glance, of the University of WA, who recently took steps to lock down his personal data on Facebook and sold his $30,000 of shares in what was, until recently, the world’s fifth-largest company.

“I didn’t want to be invested in a company as bad as Facebook,” he said.

Its business model was based on collecting as much information about users as possible “and exploiting it”, he said.

More than 60 per cent of Australians don’t trust Facebook. Picture: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Facebook has detailed data on about 16 million Australians. Many have provided their date of birth, credit card details and names of relatives. Possibly without being fully aware of it, they may have also granted access to the mobile phone numbers of everyone they know. Some users have discovered Facebook has logs of their phone calls and text messages.

While there is a growing awareness that it tracks other sites you visit on the internet, what is less well known is Facebook recently began using facial recognition to identify users in photos and that an accountholder has to opt out to stop this happening.

The YouGov Galaxy poll found even a majority of Millennials do not trust Facebook.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said digital natives were mindful of the potential risks with how technology companies could use their data.

She recommended all social media users limit the amount of personal information they provide.

“Restricting details about your address, contact information, job, and even your date of birth are all ways to reduce the likelihood of your data being used inappropriately,” Ms Inman Grant said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is facing scrutiny following reports that a data mining firm used ill-gotten data from tens of millions users. Picture: AP Photo/Steven Senne

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is holding an inquiry into “digital platforms” such as Facebook and Twitter. The inquiry is looking at the “objectivity and accuracy” of news shown to users of the platforms, as well as whether there are “adequate levels of privacy and data protection” and “the extent to which consumers understand what data is being collected about them by digital platforms, and how this information is used.”

The ACCC is taking submissions until Tuesday then will review them before deciding what to focus on.

The Federal Government is preparing a new law, the Consumer Data Right act, which Cyber Security minister Angus Taylor said would give people “the ability to control the access and sharing of their own data.

The legislation will seek to ensure that data can only be used for the purpose for which it was provided. It will also give people the ability to access and edit their data, and be fully informed about how it’s used.”