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Facebook Scandal: What actually happened (In normal language)

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April 17, 2018 – Taylor Ketchum, Director | Consumer and Digital Marketing

Early to mid-April, CEO and Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg was questioned for two days by both the Senate and House Energy and Commerce Committee (HECC).

News leading up to the interviews made the general public scared that their personal information was sold and is being used by international companies.

I hate to break it to you, but this is not a Facebook problem. If you buy anything online, have your name listed on your company pages, have your address on real estate websites (type in your address, I bet you can see a picture of it on Google Earth, plus a Zillow listing), have apps on your phone or even takes one of those online personality quizzes...you have been giving out your personal information since dial-up days with AOL.

But for those that have been paying attention to the attacks on Facebook influencing the election, you have noticed that the attack started with many feeling that conservatives were being ignored and the democratic agenda was being forced into everyone’s timelines. Zuckerberg was questioned about this and stated that no special treatment was given to either side.

Then comes the Russian blame game. People said from the beginning after election results came in for our 45th President, that the Russians won him the election. Many said this, but could not back it up with data.

Now it is 2018 and it came to surface the breaking news on the data obtained and used by Cambridge Analytica. It is said that up to 87 million Facebook users’ data was obtained and manipulated to give Donald Trump the leg up in the election.

You might be curious why Cambridge Analytica would want this data. It was used to target American voter using hyper-specific information. This is called “psychographic” targeting -- but Facebook users should know this type of targeting is used everyday by all online advertisers, not just Facebook. This is why you see ads that appeal just to you. Many are upset by this model, but would you rather get ads that don’t pertain to you at all?

During the April 10 and 11 hearings, both groups showed interest in regulations for tech companies. Zuckerberg stated that he is open to this “if it’s the right regulation,” but warned that some forms of regulation could be burdensome to tech startups. As truly one of the top technology pioneers he knows his company can handle the cost and manpower it would take to manage these regulations, but for the booming industry, many startups would never even be able to get off the ground with them. We could put ourselves behind other countries in technology advancements if regulations are not realistic.

It is still being determined if Facebook will have to pay a hefty penalty fee from the FTC. If so, they will join a very short list of companies that have been hit with this fine. There have been 91 FTC cases involving online privacy and only two powerhouses have paid civil penalties: Google paid $22.5 million in 2012 and Upromise paid $500,000 in 2017. If they do have to pay it is expected to be between $100 - $200 million.

As a social media expert and to be frank lover of all things digital, I am very clear on the fact I still support Mark, still support Facebook and still believe in the power of target marketing. We live in a society that when online, we want it to feel customized to us. You want the experiences on website to make sense for you, so while I do not like the idea of data being used illegally, I do stand behind ads being developed and targeted using psychographics.

Truly one of my favorite trips I have been on was to the Facebook’s campus - read about my trip. Facebook is what got me into social media and frankly is the main reason I have a job that I love today.

Long Live Facebook :)

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