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Canadians joining #DeleteFacebook amid fears about electoral meddling: experts

Last Updated Mar 22, 2018 at 5:31 pm EDT

A cell phone user thumbs through the privacy settings on a Facebook account in Ottawa on March 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Many Canadians are pledging to delete their Facebook accounts as part of an online campaign #DeleteFacebook. The pledge encourages people to permanently log off the site amid mounting concerns that the social media giant is inappropriately sharing users’ information beyond their circle of friends.

Canadian data scientist Christopher Wylie has accused a voter-profiling company of improperly obtaining private Facebook data from some 50 million users in an effort to tip the scales in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the U.K.’s Brexit referendum.

Former Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said a data leak of that scale was an “unthinkable proposition” for many Canadians who have long harboured frustrations about Facebook’s apparent lack of safeguards to protect user data from being shared with dubious actors.

“People are very concerned and they feel they’ve lost control, and this just confirms that,” said Cavoukian, who is an expert-in-residence at Ryerson University’s Privacy by Design Centre in Toronto.

In an interview with CityNews, University of Toronto marketing professor David Soberman said this movement will change the way people use the social platform.

“There’s going to be a change in attitude towards Facebook and I think that’s what this is indicative of. You are going to have a lot of people that start thinking twice or three times before they post certain information on Facebook,” says David Soberman.

Social media expert, Wade Sorochen, believes the movement may scare a few, but studies show the majority of facebook users will continue to use the platform.

“Studies show that the majority of people are addicted to social media and Facebook and I don’t think they will delete it at all.

It was meant to be a social platform, but people have taken it so far now. They’ve given so much information about themselves and their children and where they work and where their children go to school, that’s problematic.”

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With files from The Associated Press