THIS week, the Facebook bubble burst.

The more savvy users had always had that niggling doubt at the back of their minds that this company just knew too much about us.

And this week secretive data tech company Cambridge Analytica has been in the news over a dispute about the harvesting of Facebook users’ personal data and whether it was used to influence elections.

The Electoral Commission is investigating its possible role in the EU referendum. It has also been connected with the Trump victory and is being investigated in the US as part of the probe into Trump-Russia collusion.

The company denies the allegations, but Facebook users will be spooked.

The whole thing is murky. And a campaign, ironically on social media, is urging people to hashtag “delete Facebook”.

We may look at the Russian election outcomes with a raised eyebrow, but perhaps we should be looking closer to home.

The information age has run away with us. It has moved too fast. We are blind to manipulation and propaganda.

Only last century a large swathe of Europe was under so-called Communist rule, a powerhouse of brainwashing and misinformation keeping the population in check.

The Northern Echo:

Nineteen Eighty-Four and author George Orwell

Author and journalist George Orwell’s sinister 1984 novel warned us of the impending doom of the telescreen, the device which watched the population while spreading fake news and lies.

He could never have predicted the sheer extent of the technology age.

Now, almost without exception, each of us carry a device on our person at all times which can not only spread propaganda but can also pinpoint exactly where we are using GPS, whether we are pregnant, suicidal, old, looking for Botox, concerned we have cancer, trying to lose weight, or have boyfriend troubles.

It can also tell how often you shop, what you buy, what your political or religious views are and what your sexual preferences are.

This device, this smartphone, is a dark window into your very soul. It can even watch us without our knowledge.

And the information that could be gathered by this data is vast – even to be able to predict your next move, your vote, what you will buy.

Facebook is the window dressing on our lives, all the best parts, the part of ourselves we aspire to be at all times. The data from there is particularly valuable.

We are at risk in this age. We are at risk that everything is not as it seems. Who is watching to ensure we are not taken advantage of? Who is powerful enough to ensure we are safe from the powerful?

You can delete your Facebook profile, your Instagram feed, and your Twitter account, but as long as we have smartphones then multi-national companies know what we think and what we are buying.

Before technology runs away with us even more, we need safeguards. It will take a brave Government to clamp down on data breaches, and ensure our most private information is safe. But until then, do we really know who is in charge? Will we know who is running the world?

Read 1984. Even if you have read it before. Read it again, and then apply it to the modern age. Ask questions. It’s the only way.