The digital world is in the middle of a shift. The way social media platforms, vendors, and advertisers are collecting and using big data is changing. And recently, Facebook, the world’s most dominant social media platform, is being questioned on the social responsibility of how it handles users’ data after Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm, gained access to over 50 million Facebook users’ information.
Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t questioned very deeply in the recent congressional hearing about this data breach, mostly because our congress doesn’t understand basic concepts about Facebook or social media businesses in general. With the gap in technical knowledge between the government and the people creating and operating social media companies, it’s likely this situation (and Congress’s response) will be repeated. Here’s how Facebook is dealing with it, how Decode as a digital advertiser is dealing with it, and how we’re dealing with it as users.
Facebook has begun implementing big changes, such as removing third-party data from their advertising targeting, beginning June 30th of this year. This represents a massive chunk of revenue. They’re working on doubling the size of their security-monitoring team by the end of 2018 to 20,000 employees.
Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that Facebook has “a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you.” In the congressional hearing, he expressed being open-minded to a paid, ad-free version of Facebook for users who want to eliminate the possibility of similar future events, but maintained that there will always be a free version of Facebook. The company has also created a dedicated page for users to see if they were part of the Cambridge Analytica data breach with links on how to change your privacy and sharing settings.
Our Position as an Agency
At Decode, Facebook is within the bulk of our digital advertising strategies—simply because it’s where our clients' consumers are. We care about creating honest ads, with helpful and informative content that is relevant to users. We understand the responsibility of being on a user’s social media newsfeed and stand to only deliver ads with the highest quality content possible.
We’re gratified to hear the strides Facebook says its making to protect users’ data while still maintaining a space for responsible advertisers. As one of those responsible advertisers who is scrupulous about the integrity of our interaction with consumers, we are following this topic closely. Our current position on Facebook advertising, as of April 13th, 2018, is to continue creating and delivering Facebook ads for our clients. Of course, this position is open to changes based on any new relevant information that becomes public knowledge.
Our Position as Users
Until recently, social media users have, for the most part, trusted their personal information to the social media platforms they have accounts with. As a baseline, most platforms request each user’s name, location, and birthdate, and up to this point, users have obliged.
The smart use of social media has always been important, but now, particularly, users must be vigilant about what personal information they share online. Because what is personal information to a user is valuable data to a platform. This in no way neutralizes the rightful upset from the data breaches at Facebook, but instead, underscores our belief that as users we need to be informed. Each app we download and each terms and conditions we agree to without reading could have implications beyond our latest Buzzfeed quiz results. This data breach is a reminder to be alert and informed.
What’s your position on Facebook? Would you pay for an ad-free version? Did you get on board with #DeleteFacebook? We’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment below, let’s chat!