Digital security

Should Data Privacy Eclipse Convenience?

“If you’re not paying for a product, you are the product.”

The Delete Facebook movement and the #deletefacebook hash tag is in full flight after revelations that for years hundreds of companies have taken and used Facebook user data, including ‘friends’ data. That pretty much covers all of us on Facebook.

You would have heard of the latest culprit, Cambridge Analytica, in the media, but many others are gaining in infamy. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tried to regulate the so-called ‘scraping’ of private information, but with limited success. And The Guardian website reports the FTC is investigating Facebook about the issues.

There are now a myriad of law suits against Facebook and Cambridge Analytic for using the data, which Facebook users had assumed was private. In one case, more than 50 million users are thought to be affected.

So, why should you worry about all that if you’re running an early childhood education service?

Facebook and Education

Maybe you’re one of the many schools or early learning services that use private parent Facebook groups to share news and announcements. It makes sense for convenience as most parents are probably already on Facebook, as are most educators.

We get it, we have a private user group on Facebook and a company page. You go to where the people are.

However, the clamor and revelations around Facebook have to be a concern. Knowing your own activity is being watched by various organizations and will be used to show you adverts and who knows what else is one thing. Activity involving children is quite another.

Parents must be wondering if their child’s data – tagged images, updates, discussion, stories, travels and more — are secure. After all, your privacy settings might be top-notch, but as this article in The Conversation spells out, perhaps you should be worried about your friends’ privacy settings.

You might forget what you’ve said on Facebook over the years, but Facebook hasn’t. It continues to mine that data for what seems like eternity as this article in Stuff shows.

There Are Alternatives

For a myriad of reasons, child care programs are migrating from Facebook parent groups to private community platforms such as Educa. Here are four reasons you might want to consider joining this movement away from Facebook.

#1, Facebook has data rights, Educa does not

First, business 101: if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product. That rule applies perfectly to Facebook. Your service’s data and your parents’ data is their entire business model.

In 2007, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg invited outside developers to build their businesses off Facebook’s data, giving them ready access to the friends’ lists, ‘likes’ and affinities that connect millions of Facebook users.

You may ask, how on Earth is Zuckerberg able to offer this kind of access to private data? The answer is simple. In their 14,000-word terms and conditions, Facebook has a license to use your images and activity in any way it sees fit. These rights go beyond your daily interactions. Facebook can grant or sub-license its rights over a user’s content to other companies, including market research firms such as Cambridge Analytica and third party apps.

Actually, Facebook is not the only site with rules like this. It’s just the highest profile site right now.

Educa does not sell, rent or share data – unlike Facebook, this data is not ours to use. Our terms and conditions, section 5.2, state clearly customers  – our schools and early learning services — own their data and images, that is, their content. Educa has no rights to that content beyond using it in the course of providing our service.  Educa has a paid subscriber model. We do not sell, rent or share customer data with anyone. That has never been and never will be our business approach.

#2, Facebook is connected to the world, Educa is private

Because Facebook is an open system, anyone can join, and then anything can be shared. This means that even private groups, which many childcare services use to share with families, can be leaky. And, the problem with Facebook groups is more about why they exist – they exist to create content, shareable content.

In contrast, Educa has layers of access.  So, for example, educators can only see the children in their care to protect privacy. As well, you won’t find your children tagged on someone else’s wall. Educa also has approval and mentoring to control what information, images, and comments are disseminated.

In short, Educa is a password protected, closed system where everyone on your private site is known to you or a parent. Think of Facebook groups as friends in a crowd at a live concert, whereas Educa is friends watching the concert at someone’s private house.

Six degrees of separation? No, just one click away!

As we have seen with Cambridge Analytica, everyone on Facebook — public or private groups – is one click away from all kinds of people focused on Facebook as a source of private data. It’s like living in a dangerous neighborhood, if privacy matters to you.

#3, Facebook is an open forum, Educa has layers

Part of what’s concerning for schools and child care centre owners and directors is controlling the messaging on Facebook.  It has an equal and open forum structure where everyone in a group sees everything and anyone can make comments.

For an educational institution that has clear ideas about how it wants to communicate its approach, this presents challenges. And really, this ability to manage communications is a big part of what brought Educa into existence.

The Educa platform has two distinct feeds for communicating with families:

  1. An open forum, sharing with all educators and families
  2. Private channels – teachers connect only to the families of the child in their class, one on one

The layers of control over communication and messaging do not stop there.

Educa also has approval settings, options to require approval of anything sent to any parent. This is a great feature for managing new teachers or teachers where English is not their first language.  It is has mentoring features, wallowing for collaboration on messages before they go out.

In addition, not everyone has permission to post to all parents. It’s a user setting that defaults to off.

#4, Facebook feeds are cluttered, your messages get lost

This is not really about the #deletefacbeook movement, but there is another reason to consider moving off Facebook.Your important news and announcements are competing with a torrent of other Facebook notifications.  Are parents even seeing your posts?

Educa is a separate and distinct channel where your access to families is direct. Parents will not miss your messages.

Educa is private and secure

We could argue that part of Facebook’s challenge is its size. It is a bright light that attracts all kinds of unsavory people looking to plunder and steal its data. However, in reality, we are all part of the world wide web, and so while Educa does not attract anywhere near that same level of attention, we operate as if it does.  And so we have stringent security systems

The Educa platform is hosted by a reputable global company, Amazon Web Services (AWS), whose entire brand is invested in data security. Our database is not publicly accessible and sits behind AWS walls within a private subnet within a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and in its own security group. The database is also encrypted.  Our data transfers over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and access to our servers requires Secure Shell (SSH).

So, each customer has an Educa site that is a walled city — unique and private.

We do not share or use the data except to deliver our service and to improve the quality of the Educa platform. There are no ulterior business motives or unseen data collection going on.

Learn More About Educa

Would you like to know more about why Educa could be a better alternative communication platform for your educators and parents, request a demo here.

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