The Evaluation of Security Policies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Discussion and Methodology
  • Conclusion
  • Plagiarism Disclaimer


Rouse, Wigmore (2019) states that social media is a group of online interchange channels committed to individuals-oriented network-based information, connection and contents-sharing. Joint effort websites and applications committed to gatherings, micro-blogging, informal communication and social bookmarking are among the distinctive kinds of social media.

Hudson (2018) reports that social media alludes to websites and applications intended to enable individuals to share contents rapidly, effectively and continuously. Numerous individuals characterize social media as applications on their smartphones or tablet, yet in all actuality, this specialized apparatus began with computers. This misinterpretation comes from the way that most online networking users get to their online instruments through the applications on their smartphones or tablets. Nations (2019) suggests that social media is an expression that people throw around greatly nowadays, frequently to depict what we post on websites and applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. (Nations, 2019) argues that social media are web-based sites that enable individuals to communicate with one another.

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Facebook is a prevalent free social networking website that enables users in its database to create profiles, upload photographs and videos. Users can also send messages and stay in contact with companions, family and partners. This site is accessible in 37 unique dialects (Rouse, Dean, 2014). Standberry (2017) stated that the major advantage of Facebook is the benefit of advertisement; with Facebook you have the capability to contact your required audience accurately. Facebook is one of the most effective type of advertising, Businesses or companies can advertise to individuals by age, interests, conduct and area. If Business ventures truly know their customers, they can use the utilities of Facebook to connect with them. More than 70% of people who go online make use of Facebook, even 65% of adults older than the age of 65 make use of Facebook. Facebook has more than 1.85 billion users, most users check their Facebook page daily.

Fogden (2019) stated that internet users are becoming addicted to Facebook, it has been under speculation that social media in general has had a negative impact on our mental well-being. Fogden (2019) further reported that several researches have highlighted how the addiction of Facebook can lead to increase in depression, eating disorders, low self-esteem and anxiety.

Zhukova (2018) reported that fear of missing out (FOMO) is a condition that was introduced at the same time as Facebook and it is literally among the disadvantages of social media. FOMO is simply a type of anxiety that a person gets when the person in question is afraid of missing out on a wonderful experience or happiness that someone else is receiving. This FOMO fear is because of excess commitment to social media, the more the person uses the social network, the more likely it is for the person to see that other people are having more fun than the individual is getting. This is the major cause of FOMO.

Brown (2018) stated that social media reduces people’s self-esteem, according to a research that was carried out on a prestigious women’s magazines. Social media websites make more than 80% of its users to feel incomplete, 18 to 34 year old reported that social makes them unattractive. Stonecipher (2017) states that cyber-bullying is one of the most common problems of social media. Stonecipher (2017) further stated that originally bullying was a face to face interaction. But since the inception of social media, anonymous individuals now send harmful or insulting texts and images to random people just for the sake of bullying other people. She also stated that social media has granted people license to say whatever they want to say without any consequences whatsoever. Mitchell (2014) reported that social media is one of the major causes of distractions. She further states that many social media users especially the young people brag among themselves who has more Facebook friends and who has more Twitter followers. Social media restricts some people from talking, as a result of this some people depend on text messages for most of their conversations. Excess use of social media disassociates people from worldly activities for instance, spending less time with family and friends. Some people watch television less, children no longer do their assignments and some people barely go out for any social activities.

Literature Review

Social networking sites like Facebook has become platforms for cyber attackers to commit several cybercrimes; cyber attackers exploit critical and confidential data through social engineering and reverse social engineering. It is completely normal for social media users to share information; yet they lose privacy of their information. As users share their private information to total strangers, they slowly become the cause of their own downfall. Privacy has become a major issue when it comes to social media websites, users are completely ignorant of the privacy risks involved when they share their confidential information on social media sites. The social network’s default settings shares everything, users should change their default privacy settings options to further secure their respective information and user accounts. Security threats remains a vital issue for all social media users. How to keep social media sites more secure and more confidential are the challenges for every user. It is not easy for social media sites and users to suggest or to manually adjust their privacy settings which is an effective way to safeguard individual’s data. Millions of Facebook users are ignorant of the privacy risks involved whenever they disseminate their personal information out to the public. Because of this ignorance, many users of social media networks fall victim of privacy and identify attacks (Jabee, Alam, 2016).

O’brien, Anderson (2018) reported a major security breach in Facebook, where 50 million user accounts were accessed by anonymous attackers. The unknown attackers gained the ability to seize control of user accounts of the victims, by stealing digital keys that organizations uses for keeping users logged in. The hackers can maximize the intensity of their attack by exploiting three distinctive bugs in Facebook’s programming codes. Facebook came up with a solution for this security breach by completely fixing the bugs and logged out the 50 million breached users plus another 40 million users that were vulnerable to the attack. This procedure had to be done to reset those digital keys. Facebook stated that there is no need for its users to change their passwords, The most current attack on Facebook involved bugs on the Facebook’s ‘view as feature’, this feature allows Facebook users to see how their profiles appear in other users profile pages. Malicious attackers took advantage of this vulnerability to steal the digital keys, widely known as ‘access tokens’ from the accounts of people whose profiles were frequently using the ‘View As’ feature. The cyber attack was transmitted from one Facebook friend to another, possession of those access tokens will enable the hackers to control those accounts.

Nyoni, Velempini (2017) reported that Facebook tracked users browsing history, including people that opted out from their accounts. And even those who specified that they do not want their digital footprints to be tracked by Facebook. These direct breach in privacy terms and agreement will lead to many user’s information being less secure on Facebook. It is significant for users to be given tutorials on privacy settings on Facebook. Metadata (also known as location) goes along with posts and uploads what users create online and these ‘extra data’ can be utilized for surveillance and profiling purposes. Although Facebook uses these metadata to censor the advertisements that users see, they will always be wrongly used by third parties for instance someone may attempt a robbery in a user’s movement patterns from geo-location tags. Facebook already has a simple privacy policy that tackles some of these challenges, The Privacy policy takes care of concerns such as how data are used, shared, viewed, changed or removed.

Facebook also initiates a feedback privacy forum for its users, to get feedbacks from the users about the policy which will bring up new ideas on how to improve the privacy settings. The Facebook policy illustrates that privacy is a shared obligation that users need to be proactive in. Even with the existence of this policy, many users are ignorant of this contractual responsibility and do not use the privacy settings to secure their data.

Johnson (2016) suggested that it is important to enhance user’s privacy awareness to protect them from potential property loss or surveillance. Facebook’s privacy settings should be comprehensive enough for users to grasp what the privacy setting is all about, It is also Significant for laws that safeguard user’s information to be enforced by regulators. Johnson (2016) further stated that privacy awareness may be achieved through suitable user training that teaches how to utilize the user privacy settings on Facebook. Users must be trained on diverse ways of securing their personal data.

Weedon, Nuland, Stamos (2017) reported that Facebook has been consistently concerned on helping people safeguard their user accounts from compromise. Facebook’s security team closely monitors many threats in their platform, ranging from bad actors with different areas of expertise and missions to fake accounts. This intensive monitoring is important because it safeguards people on Facebook against targeted data collection and account hijacking. Facebook’s devoted teams concentrate daily on account integrity, user safety and security. Facebook has implemented additional methods of protecting vulnerable people in times of intensive cyber activity such as electronic periods, times of conflict or political chaos, and other highly classified events.

Shaik (2017) reported that the Facebook team has structured out strategic steps for enhancing its privacy settings and they are as follows: constructing a set of customizable security and privacy features, implementing multiple options for a two-way authentication procedure and in-product marketing to encourage adoption of sales in the market. Giving out notifications to Specific users before they are targeted by cyber attackers, with custom recommendations about the type of thread model. Facebook will implement consistent notifications to users who have yet to be targeted, even users predicted to be at risk based on the behavior of suspected malicious users. In extreme cases, direct communication with likely targets will be carried out. Facebook voluntarily promised to work with government agencies in charge of election protections, to inform and educate users who may be at risk.

Barrett (2018) reported that safeguarding user’s data has never been of top priority to Facebook because user’s data overflow boosts Facebook’s marketing business. However, Facebook have put in place several privacy settings to help protect people’s data and they are as follows; Users are given privilege to choose who can see their posts from the ‘privacy feature’, this feature is on the settings panel where the user will see ‘who can see my posts’ button to manage their defaults setting, users have an option to share their posts to the rest of the world or only share their posts to specific individuals. Whatever the user chooses will be their default setting from that point, however the settings can still be adjusted from the settings panel anytime. Facebook also has a privacy button called ‘how people find and contact you’, a user can adjust the various settings in this button to their advantage. The major purpose for this button is to inform users that they should never share their email or phone number unless they voluntarily choose to do so. A privacy setting button that filters who gets to see a user’s post on Facebook is the ‘contact and Basic info’ button, when a user clicks this button, another button called ‘Edit’ button appears which has other listed options. After the user clicks on the ‘Edit’ button, the next step the user should take is to click on the downward arrow with two silhouettes to customize who can see the user’s posts. Including an option where only specified users will be the ones to see their posts. There is also the ‘Timeline’ and ‘Tagging’ setting which limits users that post to another individual’s timeline. Then for a user to confirm these changes, a settings button called ‘Review what other people see on your timeline’ should be clicked which allows a user to see how their accounts appear in the eyes of other users. The concluding private setting is the ‘Face recognition’ option which alerts a user when their photo is used in another person’s Facebook account. It is very significant that a user controls circulation of their data that is used by Facebook. Sometimes this may not be enough, but it is a start.

Facebook (2018) reports that they access, preserve and share user’s data with regulators and law enforcement agencies. Facebook (2018) further stated that in response to a legal request of user’s data, a background check will be run as required by law in the specified jurisdiction. This background check will be based on internationally recognized standards. It is legal when Facebook provides or receives information from third-party associations about the authenticity of a user’s account to prevent fraud, abuse and other harmful activities carried out within and outside Facebook. Facebook receives user’s data including some financial transaction details carried out within Facebook. These data can be accessed and preserved for a given period, when it is the subject of a legal request or obligation, federal investigation, or investigations of possible violations of Facebook’s terms or policies. The access and preservation of user’s data on Facebook is carried out to prevent attacks, Facebook also hold user’s data from accounts disabled for terms violation for at least 12 months to discourage the repetition of the abuse and to discourage the repetition of the abuse or other terms and condition breaches.

Facebook-business (2018) stated that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is already in full effect since the 25th May 2018, The GDPR creates consistent data protection rules across Europe. Its rules apply to all companies that manage people’s data in the European Union (EU), it does not matter where the organization is based at. Data Processing involves anything related to personal data, including how an organization handles, processes, collects, stores, uses and destroys data. While many fundamentals of this regulation build on the existing EU data protection rules, the GDPR has a wider coverage with many accepted standards and significant fines. For instance a company needs a greater standard of consent for using some kind of data, and extends the rights to people for accessing and transferring their data. Violation of the GDPR can lead to substantial fines, up to 4% of global annual revenue for certain violations. Facebook-business (2018) further stated that data protection is highly recognized by the Facebook companies such as Messenger, Instagram, Oculus and WhatsApp. Facebook came to terms with the latest EU data protection law proposed by the GDPR. Ireland’s Dublin GDPR preparations were led by Facebook’s Dublin-based data protection team.

Discussion and Methodology

Garsd (2018) reported that the world is advancing into an area where social media companies like Facebook and Twitter must put privacy and security as a big priority. Fire, Goldschmidt, Elovici (2014) stated that many online social network (OSN) users like Facebook and Twitter are ignorant of the security threats that are present on these networks, including privacy violations, identity theft and sexual harassment. Fire, Goldschmidt, Elovici (2014) suggested solutions that will greatly help to solve some security problems on social media platforms and they are as follows; The removal of irrelevant personal information from users social media platforms because this removal will prevent inference attacks. Online social network users should adjust the privacy and security settings on their OSN accounts, it has been discovered that most Facebook users tend to stay with their default privacy settings. Facebook users should customize their privacy settings so that their private data will only be viewed by those that are authorized to view them. Facebook users should not accept friend requests from strangers because hackers can create fake user accounts to achieve their malicious intentions. OSN users should install internet security software, Facebook offers a few security software that is free to install for example Facebook security app embedded within the Facebook app. A great solution to security issues on Facebook may be resolved when OSN users apply the authentication mechanism. This mechanism is crucial because it validates whether all the users registering or logging into the social network are human beings and not socialbots or a hacker. OSN users use different authentication mechanisms like CAPTCHA, photos-of-friends identification, multi-factor authentication and in some cases requesting a federal form of identification from the user.

Kagan (2019) suggested that if Facebook wants to resolve their user privacy and security problems then they must stop meddling with user’s personal information. Facebook must also stop distributing user’s personal information to advertisers without their permission. Social Media users dislike the fact that when they comment on a post online, the next time they are on the internet something related to the comment they made pops up as an Ad.

Akkawi (2018) reported that allowing brands to pay social media users with Facebook-created cryptocurrency helps in fixing the user privacy and security issues of Facebook. Akkawi (2018) further stated that Facebook can utilize the blockchain technology to decentralize the storage of users data and in that way, users will be paid by advertisers for accessing their data. The major benefit of this cryptocurrency algorithm is that it allows users to control who accesses their social media data. Users who want their data to be used by advertisers will be paid with Facebook-created cryptocurrency. Facebook will increase the value of the cryptocurrency as the prices appreciates, with the usage of public ledgers users can track exactly how and where their personal data were used.

Kirby (2018) reported that the Cambridge Analytica Scandal have made users data privacy and security on Facebook a major discussion for the public. The problem is not just about who can see what users are posting on Facebook, it is what Facebook allows the third-parties and advertisers to see about a user. Kirby (2018) suggested five key ways a user can safeguard their data on Facebook, they are as follows; Kirby (2018) urges social media users to visit Facebook’s online help center and type in ‘Cambridge Analytica’ to confirm that they were not among the 87 million users whose data were compromised by the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. Every Facebook user should identify what third party applications have access to their social media accounts. To reduce the security problems that Facebook are facing, users must switch off or limit their access to third-party applications. Facebook users should limit their exposure to specific Ads, users can adjust their settings to inform Facebook user care team that they want the absence of online Ads on their webpages. Lastly, users should download a copy of their Facebook user data because it gives a user an overview of their activities on Facebook.


Social media communities like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become a major part of the modern-day internet. People use the social media to keep in touch with loved ones, sharing photos to one another or simply to keep busy when they are idle. Organizations use the social media to target their customers, delivering their business advertisements right on the screen of their customers. So many social media user accounts have been infected by various malware attacks even without the knowledge of the victim, because of some users clicking on anonymous links and accepting a stranger’s friend-request. There has been a lot of data breaches and scandals surrounding social media platforms both the present and the past. For instance, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal that happened in 2018 affected millions of users on Facebook. Research has shown that users do not adjust their privacy settings for a better security of their accounts and users are ignorant of the dangers of sharing excess information to the public. Social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may be fun but users should be wary of the dangers that comes with the use of social media.

Plagiarism Disclaimer

I understand that plagiarism is a serious offence and have read and understood the college policy on plagiarism. I also understand that I may receive a mark of zero if I have not identified and properly attributed sources which have been used, referred to, or have in any way influenced the preparation of this assignment, or if I have knowingly allowed others to plagiarise my work in this way.

I hereby certify that this assignment is my own work, based on my personal study and/or research, and that I have acknowledged all material and sources used in its preparation. I also certify that the assignment has not previously been submitted for assessment and that I have not copied in part or whole or otherwise plagiarised the work of anyone else, including other students.

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