The easy answer would be that there is no Facebook for, say, your taxes. Startups like Dropbox and Box are making enormous strides in creating data storage systems that feature the ease-to-use and easy-to-access formatting of social media sites, yet the two combined have less than 20 percent of Facebook's user numbers. So if it's not an issue of simplicity, what's really keeping The Facebook Conditioning Effect from fully transforming our digital behaviors?
The Problem: Privacy vs. Protection
Even though we've become much more likely to save noncritical files in the cloud, many of us haven't backed up our entire digital lives due to a number of recent high-profile data breach cases which have highlighted our chief concern: our data isn't safe when it's not handled directly by us. SnapChat was hacked and suddenly millions of phone numbers were public. Target's much-ballyhooed breach put the personal information of 70 million individuals at risk.
So while we continue to upload every adorable puppy pic we snap, we hide away what's really important -- our work documents, banking information, health records, and other personal and professional information -- into old-school file cabinets and documents marked "personal" on our desktops.
The key is identifying and separating the issue of "data privacy" from the idea of "data protection." While data privacy focuses on more of the legal and security issues regarding data use and storage, data protection is about safeguarding that information after it has been created and stored. All Web-enabled device users should be more aware and on-alert when it comes to data privacy - such as carefully reading all privacy agreements on sites and apps, and only sharing information that wouldn't jeopardize anything if leaked - but not at the expense of data protection.
When it comes to protecting data, the safest way is to store it is in multiple, secure locations. Just as our photos now live both in our devices and on Facebook, keeping important personal information multiple places (i.e. a hard drive and the cloud, a backup drive, etc.) should come as second nature. To make it simple, just think of the 3-2-1 rule: keep three copies of valuable data on two different types of media, and one copy at a remote location. Remember though, while basic cloud storage tools are a good starting point, they're not foolproof when it comes to security, so finding the right balance of security and simplicity is a key part of the process.
World Backup Day
World Backup Day is March 31st this year, and it's a time for all of us to think about what we're really putting on risk by not backing up our data. Disasters natural and manmade - from massive floods, spilled drinks and accidental dunks in the toilet to fried drives from sun exposure and destructive malware - occur every day that can put all of our information at risk. If there's one useful thing the 351 minutes we each spend on average on Facebook per month can teach us, it's to protect our data by keeping extra copies and backing up, not just March 31st but every day.
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