Wow, a lot can happen in a week, it seems. Gifs are back, (much to everyone’s delight if my Instagram stories are anything to go by) and Facebook has enhanced its data protection…for users in Europe. Only. Hmm.
So you’re probably aware of the recent data scandal involving the social media giant (currently subject to a US Congress hearing and soon to a House of Representatives hearing). The gist is, The Guardian broke a story about how a company called Cambridge Analytica made a fun personality test which turned out not to be so fun when it also stole people’s data and sold their answers to the Trump campaign who used it to target people with political propaganda.
That is the TL:DR version anyway, but this explainer by Vox fills in all the other important details, like how Trump’s campaign used the data for it’s political gain. Yup.
But anyway, this is big news for social media marketing because soon after the scandal broke, Facebook’s stock value dropped a few bil, #deletefacebook started trending, Zuckerberg had to do one of those big heartfelt apologies he is getting used to and promised changes would come for users.
And now we hear the changes have come, but only for those users in Europe. And probably only for them because of some new laws (The General Data Protection Regulation) which force them to. Zuckerberg told Reuters that Facebook was working on a version of the data protection law that would work globally, bringing some European privacy guarantees worldwide. But when asked what parts of the law he would not extend worldwide, he said, vaguely, “We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing.”
He did not elaborate, and The Guardian suggested, “His comments suggest that in some ways, American [and other global] users will continue to find themselves with weaker privacy protections than their European counterparts.” Is this good enough? You’ve got confidence dropping in old Facey’s ability to protect its users, when its popularity amongst some demographics is already dropping, and now some pretty cynical “solutions” introduced.
As US Senator John Kennedy said at this week’s hearing: “I don’t want to regulate Facebook but god help you I will… I say this gently: your user agreement sucks. You can spot me 75 IQ points. The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end, it’s not to inform your users about their rights. You know that and I know that. I’m going to suggest that you go home and rewrite it.” Yikes.
For social media marketers this poses some threats for not only using Facebook, but the other platforms it own and which we use to conduct our business – yes, that is Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Some commentators have very strongly suggested there is a danger for brands using Facebook marketing, because any compromise of their users’ data would result in severe damage to a brand.
Large multinational companies like Unilever have already stated they are pulling back their (uuuuge) digital marketing spends on the platform, while regulators in both the UK and America are investigating how Facebook acquires user data – with many suggesting stricter regulations are only a matter of time.
Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, spent about $9.5USD billion last year marketing its many brands, which range from Dove soap to Best Foods mayonnaise and Lipton tea. A quarter of that amount, about $2.4USD billion, was spent on digital advertising. Following the latest data breach, Unilever’s chief marketing officer Keith Ward said, “It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this, before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising and publishers stop publishing.”
So how can social media marketers adapt to these – pretty important – politics of the platform while still delivering results for their clients? One way is to ensure you are only using data you have been legitimately given. This may sound like an obvious one, and it kinda is, but that means ensuring the email addresses and other contact information you use to target your audiences has been given to you with permission.
Another way is to earn back the trust which this scandal may have eroded in some audiences. That means being transparent about the above; how you collect their data and what you use it for (and sticking to that).
To get an idea of what data we’re talking about and where it might be (or come from), you can download your Facebook data in a few easy steps. Sifting through these downloaded files may be a little alarming – check out the file ads.htm in the html folder.
It turns out my profile has 58 interests attached to it (those interests we see when targeting people with FB advertising). Plus 120 advertisers have me in a contact list they’ve uploaded to Ad Mgr at some point. Some of them I’ve never heard of :/.
Another way to see this info is to go to: Settings (top right menu of your personal FB) > Ads (left side menu) > Advertisers you’ve interacted with > Who have added their contact list to Facebook.
What are your thought on the data breach? Let us know your opinion, ideas and possible solutions in the comments below.