Prime News Ghana

Social media platforms and the inherent data protection concerns

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Social media platforms have become an essential aspect of our everyday lives in an age driven by digital connection. While these digital spaces provide new potential for communication, connection, and pleasure, their rising reliance comes with a dark underbelly: the ongoing harvesting of and the possibility of personal data breaches.

Social media networks hold large amounts of personal information, ranging from basic demographic information to complex user activity. Unfortunately, these data goldmines have become profitable targets for fraudsters and bad actors looking for unauthorized access to critical information. This article takes a look at the inherent data protection concerns confronting consumers as a result of the rise of emergent social media platforms, as well as potential solutions to these concerns to striking a balance between innovation and user privacy rights.

Here are some of the fundamental data security concerns:

  1. Excessive data collection: The majority of social networking sites collect a lot of data, including user activity, location data, and personal information. The collection of more data than is required for the services they offer is raising serious concerns putting the privacy of users at a higher risk of breaches. Basically, more data indicates a greater likelihood of hacks or breaches, and in the event that a breach happens, more private data could be exposed.

  2. Insufficient user consent: It is possible that most users are not sufficiently informed about how their personal data collected is handled and utilized by the various platforms. Users may have provided some form of consent without fully realizing the consequences, which could raise privacy concerns. Users may find it difficult to comprehend the scope of data collection and its intended uses due to extensive and intricate privacy rules or terms of service on certain platforms. Additionally, many sites periodically change their terms and conditions without informing users in a timely manner. In these circumstances, even though it makes them uncomfortable, users are forced to comply because the platform is necessary for professional networking, social contact, and other critical activities.

  3. Third-party data sharing: Social media companies work with 3rd party organizations or partners by giving them access to user data. Although this is typical, it raises questions when users' personal information is disclosed without their knowledge or consent. Users may be unaware of the full extent to which third parties receive and review their data. Users may also lose control over how their data is used or handled when it is shared. Privacy concerns are raised by this, particularly since sensitive information is accessible to 3rd Should these 3rd parties not have secured measures to protect shared data, it could result in security breaches beyond the social media platforms.

  4. Targeted advertising and profiling: This is the process of using information gathered to construct a comprehensive profile and target ads to specific people according to their interests, habits, and demographics. Giving consumers more relevant content is the goal of this. But in other cases, when the distinction between manipulation and persuasion blurs, concerns about how to maintain a balance between delivering personalized content and upholding users' right to privacy arise. Some advertisements might be designed to take advantage of psychological triggers or biases, which could then affect users' perceptions, decisions, and thoughts.


  1. Security vulnerabilities: These are weaknesses in a platform's software, hardware, or system that could be exploited by bad actors and seriously jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. Examples of these flaws include outdated software, insufficient encryption, and inadequate security policies. Data breaches could result from this, exposing private information to unauthorized parties or cybercriminals, including usernames, passwords, and personal information. Additionally, it could result in unlawful actions on behalf of the rightful owner or the misuse of personal data.


  1. Inadequate data deletion procedures: This refers to the inability to properly and thoroughly erase user data from the system or database when it is no longer required. In the event of a breach, hackers might have access to sensitive data, which results in residual data exposure. In addition, users have the right to be forgotten under the General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates that platforms erase user data upon request and carries penalties or legal ramifications for noncompliance. The decommissioning process may encounter security problems as well, as the new proprietors may have access to personal data that ought to have been erased.



In order to address the aforementioned concerns, social media platforms themselves must prioritize user privacy and security through proactive measures, user awareness campaigns, and compliance with legislative measures.

The following are some of the fundamental solutions to the aforementioned privacy concerns:

  1. Adherence to data protection regulations: Countries need to enact and implement strong data protection legislation that establishes precise guidelines for the collection, handling, and distribution of user data by social media companies. To encourage compliance with these standards, substantial penalties for non-compliance should be applied. For instance, the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843) in Ghana regulates how personal data is processed. This law describes the rights and obligations with regard to the collection, use, and preservation of personal data and it applies to both data controllers and processors. Social media companies have the authority to designate agents within countries and guarantee adherence to all the regulations delineated in the different laws concerning data security.

  2. Transparency and informed user consent: Social media companies ought to improve the way they disclose the methods they utilize and collect data. This entails giving users regular updates on any modifications to these policies, as well as enacting clear comprehensible privacy policies and transparent descriptions of data sharing procedures. Platforms should also invest in user education to increase knowledge of privacy settings and data control alternatives. Prior to collecting sensitive data, the platforms must also have clear and informed consent.


  1. Third-party handling: Verify that any third parties with which the platform exchanges data follow comparable guidelines for data protection. If at all feasible, draft contracts that specify duties and obligations related to data protection. Additionally, users must have the option to consent to or object to the sharing of their data with 3rd

  2. Granular user control over privacy settings: Platforms should enable users to take charge of their privacy. Social media sites ought to make it simple for users to control who may access their personal information, what information is shared, and how customized targeted advertising is. Users must be able to change the targeting of their advertisements and choose which ones to ignore.

  3. Frequent security audits and updates: To find and fix vulnerabilities quickly, perform frequent security audits. To defend against known and unknown threats, the software and systems need to be maintained up to date with the newest security updates. To guarantee that the platform has the newest security features, regular updates and patches should be applied. By doing this, the system is guaranteed to be safe from intrusions in the future.

  4. Data minimization: Attempts should be made to limit the collection of data to those that are required to ensure the platforms work properly. By doing this, the impact of any breaches is lessened, and user privacy is prioritized. Additionally, platforms ought to avoid keeping data longer than necessary and set explicit guidelines for deleting data when it is no longer needed. Prior to erasing any data, user verification must be obtained.

  5. Incident response strategy: Create and maintain an incident response plan to deal with and lessen the effects of a data breach in an efficient manner. This strategy should outline how affected parties and pertinent authorities will be notified.

Through the use of these practices, platforms can decrease the likelihood of compromised personal data and exhibit their dedication to safeguarding user privacy and adhering to relevant data protection regulations.


PRECIOUS DELALI AKU SADZI is a Level 400 LLB Student at the Law School, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and was an intern at Sustineri Attorneys PRUC (