Another Day, Another Data Breach. What are the consequences?

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

Facebook has made the headlines and it’s for bad reasons. On September 16, the engineers of the gargantuan social media app discovered that approximately 50 million accounts were breached. To add salt to the wound, weeks have passed and no information has been provided on why/how this was done!

The Irish Data Commissioner insisted that Facebook should be probed to investigate whether they complied with their obligations with the GDPR. With their former fines, which amounted to billions over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, seems like the social networks are under fire and in trouble yet again.

Do these breaches have a lasting impact, particularly on its consumers?

It’s uncertain because the internet has gone through drastic changes in just a couple of years.

Equifax previously had a large breach not too dissimilar and the company was hurt when the news became public. Their stocks went down from $141 to $95 per share. Eventually, though it then recovers, after a year, reaching $128.69 as of September 18, 2018. That is nearly equivalent to their peak per amount per shares before the disclosure of the data breach of almost 150 million people. Judging from this, the pattern seems to really hurt the company upon the compromise but will then recover after a year or so.

With situations like this, we can’t help but wonder: Do and should consumers show outrage over this? I mean, these were really major breaches on a scale of millions which could lead to a lasting impact of maybe even permanent and yet companies bounced back after the dust had settled.

This may be because we, consumers, have now grown accustomed to these data breaches. We’ve become acquainted with the fact that our data may just be lost and there’s not much we can do about it.

Perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture for us to fully comprehend the consequences of our personal data being compromised. We need to find the drive to change our proactive attitude over these data breaches.

For one, we lack a sense of control, the seemingly nonexistent consequences, and the changes that have occurred to trust. Most consumers are slightly unbothered with the situation because to most of them, it’s inevitable. One way or another, a breach will occur no matter how much time, effort and money you invest to build your walls up high, it will bound to happen. Which is why most people just have come to “accept” the fact and thinks this is the norm when it shouldn’t be.

Secondly, most people are usually nonchalant about this because there are no direct observable consequences that come along with it – or so it seems. One good example is opting out to buy something at a suspicious looking website because the item you want to buy costs lesser there. Only for you to find out a couple of weeks, or even months later, that some odd charges have been stolen on your credit card. The worst part is not being able to see the connection between this problem and the breaching of your personal information. This should be a cause for concern and we should do something to mitigate this problem.

Lastly but definitely not least, the trust factor. According to the book ‘Who Can You Trust?’ by Rachel Botsman, we used to trust depending on the brand and institution but that is no longer the case these days. She states that our trust has shifted because we no longer trust any company in the first place. We’ve always been sceptical about them that we expect them to do bad and it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

These factors working together have led on to produce masses of unbothered consumers. Stolen could lead to bad outcomes and may even lead to the fall of democracy and should really be taken seriously.

While Facebook may have to comply and be more mindful with breaches all thanks to the EU’s laws particularly the GDPR. All-in-all however, every company not just Facebook, may it be big or small, should be very concerned about this problem and pay more attention to it and as consumers, we should do our part in showing outrage over these matters to really push these companies to take action.