Users like Facebook despite privacy issues

More than half the population logs into Facebook daily and two in three log in every month despite the privacy concerns that are plaguing the platform.

A Facebook logo is reflected on a phone screen.

Despite privacy concerns, more than half the population logs into Facebook daily. (AAP)

Australians may distrust Facebook but six months after the Cambridge Analytica scandal we are still flocking in record numbers to the social media giant's platforms.

About 13 million across the nation log on to Facebook every day while another three million people check in at least once a month.

The Mark Zuckerberg creation is also seeing growth in its other key apps - Messenger and Instagram - which both boast more than nine million users, a spokeswoman told AAP.

That's despite Facebook's privacy battles and it being named our least trusted media brand in a Roy Morgan poll this year.

Monday marks six months since news first broke of the CA privacy breach involving a potential 87 million Facebook accounts, including those of 310,000 Australians.

The British political consultancy agency had used data mined from Facebook accounts to conduct psychological profiling for use in political campaigns.

Facebook said that data was "improperly shared" and banned several apps that scraped data in that way.

It also admitted about the same time most of its two billion users had had their phone number and email address publicly exposed through one of its search features.

Curtin University internet studies expert Tama Leaver says people might still be logging on but their time spent in each session had likely dropped.

That's in part because of News Feed changes introduced in January that prioritised friends' posts over updates from pages and news organisations.

"But I think users would be much more circumspect about what they share and how much they use the platform," Associate Professor Leaver told AAP.

He said the privacy issues had prompted the platform to take up an expensive billboard and TV ad campaign to reclaim the messaging about what Facebook means.

Research suggested young people turned to the platform to organise events but mainly communicated via other platforms, Prof Leaver said.

"Facebook is almost like stationery - you have to have it for some stuff but it is no longer the social core of their lives," he said.

"The fact Facebook and Instagram are trying to get more and more marketing and businesses into the stories format suggests that's where they see their growth as well."

In Australia, the social giant is still facing the threat of a $2.1 million fine, with the federal privacy commissioner now in the sixth month of her investigation into the Cambridge Analytica issue.

The privacy commissioner's office declined to comment on the progress of the probe.

A potential class action dependent on the commissioner's findings is being bankrolled by litigation funding provider IMF Bentham.

Facebook says it takes seriously its responsibility to be a "positive force" in the world and points to the changes it has made to protect people's data and its efforts to be more transparent about how it operates.

Opting out of advertising based on third-party data is possible as are new ways to delete old posts and stop rarely used third-party apps from accessing profile data.

Facebook will also soon tell Australian users exactly how long they've spent on its app.

"We're committed to improving Facebook for everyone in a way that enables communities to build and flourish, while safeguarding people's private data," a spokeswoman told AAP.

Belinda Barnet, a social media and data privacy expert, said Facebook has made significant changes since March, including ending its partnership with data brokers and ensuring users know where to change privacy settings or download their data.

But the Swinburne University lecturer doesn't think it has gone far enough and wants to see a change in the business model driven by users' data.

"I think we are seeing more public awareness about that business model," she told AAP.

"We're seeing an increase in government regulation and that, long-term, is probably the only way we can do it."

Regulation might do what privacy concerns could not - stop the behemoth's unyielding growth.

Published 17 September 2018 at 10:30am
Source: AAP