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Facebook Scandal Has Colorado Students & Teachers On Alert

By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) - After 50 million Facebook users had their information accessed by a data firm without their knowledge, the social media giant is vowing change.

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(credit: CBS)

It's a scandal that has many asking "How do I protect myself online?" -- specifically on social media sites built around sharing personal information.

"I have had to figure out how to keep my information private," said Anushka, a graduate student at the University of Colorado. She asked to not use her last name.

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She has a good sense of security when it comes to the internet. She is continually updating privacy settings, installing new software and limiting what she puts on the web.

"I was always told once you put something on the internet it's there forever, and you don't really know where it goes," she said.

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Facebook's data collecting scandal has reignited the debate over privacy.

"It's moments like this that we get up in arms 'Oh, this is so terrible!' But, at the same time there's a certain inevitably in how we handle social media and mobile media that makes these moments so possible," said Dr. Samuel Jay, a professor of Communication Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

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CBS4's Karen Morfitt interviews Dr. Samuel Jay. (credit: CBS)

Much of his research focuses around exactly that, social and mobile media.

His best advice for limiting the access to your information is be aware of what apps are connected to social media accounts and be cautious of where you're sharing information.

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"Consider when they sign up for stuff. Do you want to sign up via Facebook or Google or your email? You know sign up via email instead of giving all of that free information to Facebook or Google," he said.

They are small steps that can limit the information being collected, but not all of it. That is a risk Anushka, and many other users, are willing to take.

"It's changed the way I use it. I don't think it's changed my decision to use it or not," she said.

RELATED: Here's How To Stop Facebook From Sharing Your Data

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

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