Facebook and Us by Kara Lefkowitz
Written By Ryan Haft - May 20, 2019
Technology doesn’t surprise us anymore. Instagram updates every day, new emojis are a dime a dozen, and Facebook shows us ads for that pizza we’ve all been craving. All this combined presents a new frontier for commerce. For the first time what we spend money on, how long we stay on a sight, and potentially even our future behavior is all data. Everyone’s behavior is traceable and predictable. This is a huge benefit for business. In a perfect world, it gets consumers what they want before they even know they want it. However, our world is not perfect and sometimes the succinctness of these ads gets a big brother vibe from consumers.
People are inherently private so they don’t like the idea that everything about them is online. It’s this odd love of convenience but fear of a loss of privacy. The biggest example of this paradox coming to a head is the Facebook Cambridge Analytic scandal. People felt a significant loss of privacy by the hands of Facebook. As a company, they are still feeling the effects of this breach in trust today. With the Facebook scandal, this reality of consumer data got pushed front and center. Facebook is funded through advertisements, so what solution could they come to that wouldn’t stop businesses from advertising and won’t make their users feel unsafe?
They create the “clear history” function
Creating the “option” for Facebook users to delete their history and become a ghost online. This is a solution for the private Facebook user. While being a problem for digital marketers and Zuckerberg knows this; he already warned advertisers this will change their strategies for Facebook ads. Even though this option may impact Facebook’s ad business. Zuckerberg clearly sees this tool as necessary to win back user trust. “After going through our systems, this is an example of the kind of control we think you should have,” he wrote in his announcement post on Clear History. “It’s something privacy advocates have been asking for — and we will work with them to make sure we get it right.”
The stance of Facebook is strong; is privacy going to kill specified ads on Facebook?
The clear history button if used will affect specifications of ads, but a big part of that is if it’s used. There is a reason Facebook is giving this as an option, not a mandate. Also, an upside is its release has been delayed. They have released statement after statement promising this feature will arrive even though it is a couple of months late already. With a release like this, it seems like it is purposefully going under the radar. Facebook knows they have one of the most effective platforms for specified ad targeting due to the information Facebook users tell about themselves. From their relationship status, to what pages they visit. The upside of the clear history function is that it gives users the confidence that they aren’t being watched, so for some, the ad they eventually see could sit better with them. Another big plus for businesses is that it is optional; so most people, who are not privacy advocates who stay up on Facebook news might not know about this new option.
So even though it seems like a death sentence for digital advertising that’s a far cry from the truth. If anything users who find a problem with personalized ads won’t have that problem anymore. Now ads will seem more genuine and trustworthy. So yes data is being erased. But Facebook knows this won’t really matter other than the initial dent in loss of data. Facebook will still be an extremely effective marketing tool for all users.
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