Protecting ourselves, and our data, in an age of rampant social media growth


Globally, social media use grew by almost 1 million people every day over the past year. Americans continue to get much of their news through social media, but a majority have concerns about its accuracy. California now has an Office of Elections Cybersecurity to help monitor false information online.

California cybersecurity

Last month California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill creating the Office of Elections Cybersecurity that would attempt to secure elections and counteract false information online that may suppress voter participation. The budget for the office will be about $2 million a year.

Going mobile

According to We Are Social and Hootsuite, two social media-tracking sites, more than 3.1 billion people worldwide use social media.

This map shows the percentage of active accounts accessed by mobile phone on the top social network in each region, compared with the areas population.

Map of social media use

Social woes

In March, it was revealed that data firm Cambridge Analytica had mined private information from more than 50 million Facebook users and that the social media giant had alerted no one. Cambridge Analytica was hired by Donald Trumps 2016 presidential campaign. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted the company had made mistakes that allowed personal data to be mined.

Californias Consumer Privacy Act, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020, requires companies that do business in the state to disclose what they do with peoples personal information and gives individuals more say in how their data are used.

Election interference

Zuckerberg responded to questions about the 2016 presidential election by saying, “One of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016.”

Hate speech

In Myanmar, Facebook was used to spread false information to incite violence against minority religious groups. Myanmar had 10 million Facebook users in Myanmar in 2016 but only four content moderators who reviewed content for hate speech and other content that violates that social networks policies. Facebook has said it is increasing the number of moderators.

Social media and news

A survey on social media conducted this summer by a Pew Research Center found that a majority of American adults get at least some part of their news from social media:

Social media opinions

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daily news

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