How big is your cyber footprint and how safe is your information?

Posted at 11:35 PM, Apr 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 23:37:05-04

Lawmakers grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

They want him to take responsibility after millions of users' information was compromised.  Now, the government is toying with regulating social media and the tech giants who run it.

Millions of people use Facebook everyday. There are some ways you can protect yourself like changing privacy options and limiting posts. But no matter what you do online, you're never completely out of harm's way. 

"When we open our electronic devices and we sign up our social media devices and we sign up our social media accounts, there’s a terms and conditions of use," said Thomas Byrd, a professor and Cyber Forensics expert, at Stevenson University.

Zuckerberg told a senate committee his company doesn’t sell any user information.

"What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach, and then we do the placement."

But once you agree to those terms and conditions, whatever you post can be seen and used for marketing or other purposes.

"These terms and conditions have been drafted by lawyers and they’re giving the awareness that hey were collecting information we may be sharing this with third party corporations," said Byrd.

Corporations like Cambridge Analytica, the company at the center of Tuesday's hearing.  It's accused of accessing user information to influence the recent presidential election. 

"They’re collecting information once we turn on the devices.  They’re using our GPS data to provide us where’s the nearest Starbucks where’s the nearest restaurant," Byrd told ABC2.

Those are all features so many of us rely on daily.  Anything you post, and any device you use can track everything, including personal information.

"Nothing is safe.  Nothing is safe so these are corporations and their business model is making money on information," said Byrd.

"By putting yourself out on these sites I think it’s probably Google and a couple of others you’re allowing them to know about your personal life," said Baltimore resident, Jack Brown.

So will the government eventually regulate social media? 

"With the onset of legislation we’re talking about new privacy controls, being able to opt out," pointed out Byrd.

Katherine Martin-Fisher said she's lessening her cyber footprint all the time.

"I’ve done a whole lot less with social media because of that because I started to see too many occurrences where things were coming up because of things I've been looking at."

The Capitol Hill questioning isn't over for Zuckerberg. He's set to testify again Wednesday in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.