It’s Friday the 13th—a day known for curses, bad omens, superstitions and… appearances before Congress? This year it is! The country — no, wait — the world is literally buzzing about the future of Facebook as CEO Mark Zuckerberg just wrapped up a two-day stint in the Congressional Hot Seat.
Today, I’ll break down what happened and why it matters to your business, so you don’t have to scour as many articles or live broadcasts as I did. :D
It’s only mid-April and yet, 2018 has already been a rough year for Facebook. First, there was the Facebook Apocalypse. Now, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s bad luck landed him in front of Congress, facing some intense questioning regarding (mostly) Facebook User Data Privacy. In just two days, Zuckerberg was blamed for election interference, content censorship, the opioid crisis, and MORE. I’m not kidding.
Here’s What Happened
This is straight from Zuckerberg’s testimony:
“In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who agreed to share some of their Facebook information as well as some information from their friends whose privacy settings allowed it. Given the way our platform worked at the time, this meant Kogan was able to access some information about tens of millions of their friends.”
Here’s the sequence of events that followed:
- Facebook discovered this app (as well as potentially many others) was abusing their user data access. (2013)
- Facebook responded by dramatically changing how third-party apps accessed user information. (2014)
- Then, it was discovered that Kogan shared that data with multiple entities, including Cambridge Analytica. This violated Facebook’s policies. (2015)
- Facebook had Cambridge Analytica (as well as other entities) certify that they deleted all improperly acquired data. (2015)
- Facebook learned that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as originally attested and immediately banned them from using any services. (March 2018)
Now, our good friend Mark is facing lawmakers to determine if legislation is necessary to regulate user data privacy online. Black cats and broken mirrors are the least of Mark Zuckerberg’s bad luck this year, am I right?
Here’s What It Means For You
First and foremost, Facebook is not being dismantled. That’s probably the silliest superstition I’ve ever heard, but it’s certainly a fear held by businesses on the platform. Facebook is ingrained in our everyday lives. And that doesn’t just apply to a few of us. 1.4 BILLION of us log on every. single. day. So the social giant isn’t going anywhere! And if you need confirmation, you can read about how Facebook is $24 billion richer since the testimony here.
Next, even ADVERTISERS on Facebook won’t be affected by any of the coming changes. Want to know why? Because we’ve never had access to user data anyway. We simply select demographics, interests, job titles, etc. and Facebook sifts through the data (that only they can see) to build an audience for us. We never get to see who that audience is. All we know is that our ads are served to a group of people who meet the selected criteria.
Finally, and most importantly, this is GOOD NEWS for our businesses. It may be a hot topic and a little controversial, but it’s forcing Facebook to seriously reflect on what it has created. Even if regulation is put in place at the end of all of this, any changes to the platform would be for the better. Making strides to protect data privacy would secure consumer trust, improve the user experience, and ultimately maintain an online space that members never want to leave.
I’ll leave you with Zuckerberg’s closing statement:
“I started Facebook when I was in college. We’ve come a long way since then. We now serve more than 2 billion people around the world, and every day, people use our services to stay connected with the people that matter to them most. I believe deeply in what we’re doing. And when we address these challenges, I know we’ll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force in the world.”
As always, I’m happy to keep you up to date in the social space. See you next month.
Here’s to hoping your Friday the 13th doesn’t experience Mark Zuckerberg’s bad luck!
P.S., Mark Zuckerberg’s bad luck led to some hilarious internet memes. Here are our favorites. Let us know yours in the comments below!