The media has dragged Facebook’s reputation through the mud in the last couple of weeks and it’s all because of data. Even though the Cambridge Analytica scandal did identify certain privacy flaws in the platform’s back end; the bigger picture seems to have been ignored. We no longer live in a world where data is a bit of paper you keep locked up in a desk drawer. In fact, millions of us have been willingly opting in to sharing our data for years. In spite of this, the media still seems to be portraying the public as un-savvy, vulnerable minions, living under the dominion of social media overlords. When of course, this is not the case.
Why we share data
The reason behind why we share personal data is simple; so marketing messages and services can be more targeted. Gone are the days of mass marketing, cold calling and door-to-door sales pitches. Now, strategic marketing plans are much savvier. The internet and social media has revolutionised the way we talk to customers and it’s all because of the availability of personal data. In fact, the more available your personal data is, the less mass marketing messages you will see. Ultimately, modern marketers are now in a race to provide the most relevant and shareable content to consumers. As a result, access to data such as demographics, geographics and behaviours such as spending habits actually plays a vital role in removing irrelevant ads from your feed.
Where does the ‘data fear’ come from?
The answer, again, is simple; a few bad apples are spoiling the whole bunch. When data made the transition from paper to digital, people took advantage. Now, we wouldn’t for a moment dispute that this doesn’t still happen. However, privacy laws, cyber security and banks have developed to such a high level that only a miniscule percentage of people across the globe could do any real damage with your social media data. The vast population of data users simply use platforms like Facebook to improve customer experience and drive traffic to websites. The real fear is that people can no longer open a secure draw and touch a physical copy of their personal documents, instead they have to trust an invisible force to keep them safe. The reality is that your personal financial data has never been safer.
GDPR data laws
Effective immediately in April, the GDPR is going to increase protection around personal data to further limit its use. It’s important to understand that personal data is regulated and controlled the most sophisticated algorithms in the world; saying that 50 million people’s data has been stolen is an easy stat to create in digital terms. In reality, it doesn’t mean 50 million people lost all of their savings, or were even affected at all. The lack of follow up articles and real life horror stories after data scandals shows how protected we really are.
The bottom line is ‘pulling data from your Facebook account’ usually means an algorithm has read the information you provided when setting up your account. In reality, it’s not as sophisticated and dangerous as the headlines make it seem.