It seems as though every day, there is a new headline about fake news, information security, and data breaches, but could we ever have imagined one of our most widely used social sites to be in the center of it all? This past month, Facebook has encountered some of its own roadblocks with these popular issues. But to fully understand why #DeleteFacebook is now one of the most trending topics, we must first unpack the purpose and influence of the company itself.
What does Facebook provide for marketers?
Facebook is home to the largest online platform for advertising and marketing professionals to date, with 2 billion monthly users as of June 2017. The social media site which has quickly expanded into a powerful influencer of all things political, cultural and religious, just to name a few, brought in just under $40 billion dollars in revenue from digital ads in 2017 alone. Since their start in 2004, Facebook has altered the algorithm for which ads are shown to select users several times, which has caused quite an uproar in the professional and user spheres alike. Essentially, targeted advertisements draw on the bank of personal information that users provide when creating their profiles along with several categorical frameworks based upon the actions they take while using the site, such as likes, interests, and groups.
So, what went wrong?
When we sign up to become users of Facebook, we make a mutual agreement to share our information with the company under their security and privacy policies, trusting that this agreement will be upheld. In March of 2018, the age of mistrust brought yet another disappointment to the public at large when Cambridge Analytica, a partner data analytics firm for Facebook, was found to have improperly accessed and utilized the private information of up to 87 million users. Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, and CEO of Facebook has blamed the data breach and miscommunication upon himself saying, “We didn’t take a broad enough view on what our responsibility was and that was a huge mistake. That was my mistake….” Although we don’t necessarily have to be worried about our information leading to any public personal repercussions, the information used has impacted specifically the targeting of political advertisements during the 2016 presidential election. Looking back, how could the prevention of this data breach have influenced the results of multiple campaigns and the election as a whole? We will never know.
Why the #deletefacebook movement?
In response to a feeling of betrayal and misuse of personal information, many users of Facebook have taken a stand to delete their profiles in an effort to show that the security of the public should never be undermined by a digital company that has been fully fueled by its users. Even technology figures such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk have joined the movement, deleting their pages on Facebook for at least the time being while privacy policies are altered and wrongs are made right in light of the recent breach. Although there was a slight period of doubt in the company and a large slide in its stock as a result, Facebook is expected to make a quick bounce back to its previous value as the scandal falls to the bottom of the news ‘barrell’.
Zuckerberg took to Capitol Hill last Tuesday and Wednesday to endure 10 plus hours of hearings in front of the House and Senate committees in an effort to answer inquiries about the scandal, discuss cybersecurity and privacy policies, understand how Washington can better protect individuals on these sorts of platforms, and define what the role of Facebook, along with other companies of the same realm, is in the growing digital age.
If Facebook were to lose a significant amount of users in the aftermath of this event, advertisers could be frantically searching for alternate routes to reach specific audiences who might have been deserted in the movement. This holds ample possibilities for other social networks such as Snap Inc. to take lead in the sphere of digital advertising. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves in doubting the company that arguably started it all. We will just have to wait and see how Facebook faces the journey post-breach and alters their practices to maintain user’s privacy and security in the era of user’s rights.
Are you a loyal user or a #deletefacebook advocate? Let us know your thoughts below!