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How Do the Latest Facebook Security Concerns Affect Nonprofits and Foundations?

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One

Elisabeth Bradley

Vice President, Strategy, Forum One

Over the weekend, it came to light that over 50 million Facebook users’ private data was harvested without their knowledge by Cambridge Analytica, an upstart voter profiling company based in the United Kingdom. What does this mean for your organization?

As questions continue to surface over what this means for individual social media profile information, mission-driven organizations should also consider how this affects their data and what they can do to be more secure online.

Questions That Nonprofits and Foundations Should be Asking

Here are a number of questions that your executive team should be asking in light of the recent security breach news:

  • Are you upholding your own privacy standards in your Facebook activities? 
  • Do you have any security exposure?
  • Are third-party petitions and contest sites still going to be an effective email capture tool as people change their security settings and attitudes about sharing their personal information?

Have We Reached Peak Social?

The #deletefacebook movement is gaining popularity right now, but it’s too early to tell if people are actually going to abandon the platform in a significant way, or if the fallout will spread to other social networks. Those who stay on Facebook will likely be taking a closer look at security settings, which nonprofits and foundations should do too, as it could impact some of the tools they are using to collect email addresses and other data. 

How “Fake News” Plays Into the Latest Security Concerns

According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer, a survey that measures public trust in institutions, NGOs enjoy the highest levels of public trust both in the US and globally, about ten points higher than government or media. This can be both a risk and opportunity for nonprofits and foundations. While low trust in government and media partners could spill over, nonprofits and foundations can use their position as a trusted messenger to build their relationship with their audience more effectively than those in the government or media sectors. 

Important Security Steps to Follow

While the following checklist items are not new in light of this week’s news, they remain extremely important—especially for mission-driven organizations who likely have more than one person managing their Facebook (and other social media) accounts.

  1. Make sure your password is secure. Make sure it’s strong and is being changed on a regular basis. Additional two-factor authentication login security on Facebook steps should also be followed.
  2. Make sure your email accounts are secure. Follow the same steps as above. For two-factor authentication steps, check with your email provider.
  3. Keep anti-virus software up-to date. Whether you are on a company server, PC or Mac, you will want to make sure that your anti-virus protocols are up-to-date. For help with this, reach out to your IT administrator.
  4. Log out from shared devices. Be sure to log out when you are not on the platform when using devices (computers, mobiles, tablets) that don’t belong to you. While you can do your best to control your personal devices’ security, you don’t have access to do so once you walk away from a shared device.
  5. Avoid downloading unknown items. Think once, twice, even three times before downloading something from social media or the Internet more broadly. 

Keep Your Supporters Informed

This week’s scandal is raising a lot of questions about data and privacy on social networks. No one has all the answers yet, but letting your supporters know that your organization is thinking about this issue and is concerned for their privacy will go a long way towards maintaining the relationship that you’re working so hard to develop. Tell your followers what you are doing to keep their data secure, and remind them of your organizational privacy standards. 

Written By

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One

Elisabeth Bradley

Vice President, Strategy, Forum One

Do you have additional digital security concerns?

If so, we’d be happy to talk through them with you. Get in touch today.