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Three Predictions: The Facebook Data Breach

What We Know

It’s no secret that Facebook has been collecting an overwhelming amount of personal data for years. What happens when that data is breached?

As digital marketers, we rely on this data heavily for targeted advertising. If we do our jobs well, your Facebook feed will be full of meaningful content, interesting brands and relevant products to create a great overall user experience. It’s when that data is misused that we run into some ethical issues.

On March 17th, Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, leaked the private data of over 87 million users and the fact that they used it in targeted political campaigns.

The leak caused outrage among individuals and brands alike and sparked the #DeleteFacebook movement, Many influential brands, such as SpaceX and Tesla, removed their business accounts as a result of the leak. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, remained MIA for over four days following the news before he eventually issued a vague apology and promised to make changes.

Changes Have Begun

For one, Facebook recently redesigned its mobile settings menu to make it clear what personal information can and can’t be shared and encouraging users to take control of their privacy settings. Facebook also added a shortcut in the menu that links directly to privacy settings.

Facebook also recently removed the ability to analyze Custom Audiences through the Audience Insights tool. We expect Facebook to find a solution that allows advertisers to still target specific audiences while keeping all of the data secure, whether it manifests itself as a new feature or as revisions to the existing feature.

So, as we all embrace this climate of uncertainty and change, here are some of our thoughts on what this could mean for Facebook, digital and your brand.

Prediction #1

Additional regulations on data and privacy are inevitable. We predict there will be increased regulation from the FTC regarding personal data and its use. The EU has already implemented The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will go into effect on May 25th, 2018. Interestingly, additional regulation may actually work in Facebook’s favor, increasing the barrier to entry in the social media space and making it more difficult for small startups to comply.

Prediction #2

Facebook and other platforms will crack down on data sharing and increase privacy settings. We have seen several announcements from Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest so far reminding business profiles of the importance of data security and the responsibility of brands to handle it responsibly, in addition to complying with GDPR as it applies.

Prediction #3

We saw an initial Facebook stock hit but predict that it will be temporary. Facebook is a social media powerhouse and it will adapt to this new climate (hopefully with better handling of personal data). We saw a small spike in Facebook account deactivations after March 17th, but these were a minuscule fraction of Facebook’s 2.2 billion active users. These deactivations may have affected brands’ follower counts in March but shouldn’t have made any lasting impact.

What This Means For Your Brand

SpaceX, Tesla, and Playboy have removed their Facebook pages. Sonos, Pep Boys and Mozilla have pulled their ads. Should your brand #DeleteFacebook? It may all depend on your audience. Is this something your fans care about? Would it help or hurt your brand to take a stand on this particular issue? These are good questions to discuss when deciding how your brand should move forward.

To sum up, the end result of all this will likely be a consensus of “buyer beware.” Media companies will not stop collecting our data, nor do we want them to. More data leads to more informed decisions and a better overall user experience. As brands and marketers, data helps us do our jobs well.

Make sure you’re handling customer data responsibly and complying with any new privacy policies and regulations as they are implemented.

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Jason Cormier

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