Facebook got a lot of unwanted attention in 2018 when the team led by Mark Zuckerberg was accused of breaking the law when it comes to collecting and sharing users’ personal data.
We all know that these Internet giants (Facebook, Google, and others) make their money by collecting personal data and selling targeted ads. So why did the world turn on Facebook?
According to the Berlin regional court, the problem stands with the fact that users don’t have enough data to make an informed decision when it comes to their privacy. The mobile app (which is used by 47% of Facebook users) automatically sets users’ location and profile as findable by search engines.
Furthermore, some of their terms and conditions were considered too broadly phrased to allows users to understand what they actually mean. Since then, Facebook updated their terms and conditions, but it seems that transparency still isn’t their strong suit.
Moreover, it turns out that they don’t even play by the new rules!
Prohibited Content in Ads
According to their own Advertising Policies, ads are prohibited from using a long list of things, amongst which we can also find Personal Attributes. Here it states that “Ads must not contain content that asserts or implies personal attributes”. Following the list of items and examples that represent personal attributes, we also find the name.
According to their example, an add can’t use a person’s name in any way, shape or form. Still, users have reported seeing ads on their feed, with their name clearly stated.
So, what is happening? As it turns out, if you check Facebook’s Add Manager, advertisers don’t have the option to use names. In conclusion, this feature is only reserved to companies owned by or linked to Facebook (Oculus is a Facebook company).
Besides the fact that they break the rules they put in place, they do so to gain a competitive advantage. After all, suddenly seeing your name in an ad is bound to stop you from scrolling, right?
Why Should We Care?
Facebook is not the only one to promote murky practices. Over the years, Google also took some heat for their use of advertorials when the rules clearly stated they are prohibited. Besides the blatant lie, these networks show a lack of transparency and constant care for wiggle room when it comes to personal gain.
Moreover, this sort of actions can be considered a hindrance of trade laws, since the company is looking to get an advantage over other retailers.
So why should we, as final consumers, care? After all, ads are everywhere and the final consumer is already desensitized (especially younger generations). However, the fact that social media and other platforms have the ability to poke into our private lives is not something to ignore. Not to mention, that it doesn’t stop to tracking our location and sharing our personal information with third party players!
We now have virtual assistants who learn more about our behavior every day. They are in our phones, in our homes, and in our cars, watching, observing and learning. While it’s amazing that we can use natural language to communicate with devices, we forget the dark side of technology, which is the invasion of privacy.
A More Personalized Ad Experience
Facebook defended their position towards data sharing by saying that users request ads that are more specific to their needs. Well, this is partially true, especially with millennials, who are fed up with being served generic ads that just take away space on their screens.
According to a report published by Rapt Media, millennials are interested in promotional content, but only when it provides a customized experience. According to the report, 62% of respondents are engaged by the content they find on their own, because it fits with their needs.
However, the same report shows that more and more young people use ad blocking tools, disable cookies, and don’t subscribe to mailing lists.
Considering all this, it becomes clear that users are not interested in seeing their personal data being used for generic ads. They are interested in content that can be customized based on their wants and needs. Also, they are more and more protective of their personal information, which should send a clear message to data collectors such as Facebook or Google.
Author Bio: Danielle Canstello is party of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise level analytics and business intelligence software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of the marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.