Facebook’s biggest fear – privacy

Yes yes yes, I know I posted earlier that Privacy is dead…but it can still damage or even take down your business if not handled properly. Which is what we are seeing in the most recent privacy snafu from Facebook. Of course the social media giant is distancing themselves by blaming third party apps for the abuse of their users’ data – games like Farmville are supposedly pulling data from the users and re-purposing it for other business goals.

Not really a surprise. Let’s face it, the underlying value of these social networks and games is to be able to better construct a profile of users – there habits, interests and potential for spending money. As a marketer, one is always trying to better understand the end customer so we can ensure the right product gets to them at the exact right time when they are ready to make a purchase. Social media has given us another channel from which we can derive this information. Facebook knows this, as do their app developers.

The question becomes, when does that invisible line get crossed? Is it taboo to allow firms to purchase and build a profile of users based on their leveraging habits of social media tools? Should their be a disclaimer on everything we do on line? (btw I do not aggregate or even look at the profile information of those that read my blog!) Or should we, as cyber users, take it for granted that our information is being used somewhere and somehow to build our profiles…and we will be receiving better targeted and on message marketing and promotional materials?

In the non cyber world we are all accustom and aware that our names are on “lists” that can be bought and sold – you signed up for a catalog from JCrew…guess what? Brooks Brothers, the Gap, and other clothing retailers just purchased your address and you will be receiving their nice catalog in the mail. We have grown accustom to this in the real world….we better get accustom to it in cyber space as well. Does not mean we have to like it, there should always be simple opt out options from email, but we are already in that world.

Get used to but check your Facebook privacy settings as well!

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