Will Privacy Concerns Scare off Marketers from Using Facebook?

In my last post, I discussed the recent changes to Facebook and what they mean for marketers.  At the end of that article, I noted that marketers should proceed with caution and to keep tabs on how consumers reacted.  Since those comments, Facebook has been under fire with complaints from users, analysts and even governments about privacy concerns.

I’ve even noticed a rash of posts amongst my personal friends who are considering cancelling their accounts.

(click for the larger NYT graphic)

It seems like Facebook is earnest in wanting to provide precise control over privacy settings, but in doings so, they’ve created a lot of complexity for users.  Earlier this week The New York Times had a nice infographic to help visualize the Facebook privacy issues.  Some fun facts from the graphic:

  • Facebook has50 settings with more than 170 options 50 settings with more than 170 options to manage your privacy
  • Facebook’s 2010 privacy policy has more words than the US Constitution.
  • In the last 5 years Facebook’s privacy policy has grown to 5,830 words from 1,004 in 2005.

The most controversial aspect of the recent changes seems to be “Instant Personalization”.  This feature allows a user’s information to be shared with third parties that can tailor their sites’ appearances to a Facebook user’s activities.  Causing alarm for some, this feature is by default enabled without needing users to explicitly opt in.

Ultimately, I think/hope Facebook will move past the privacy lightning rod.  Social media interactions represent a seismic shift for marketing, and when this data is leveraged in the correct way, it can continue marketing’s trend to be so relevant it feels like a service.

If you want to read more about my views on social media marketing, I was interviewed for great article in Behavioral Insider titled Charting The Social Graph With Great Care.

What about you?  Are you thinking about cancelling your Facebook account?  As a marketer, are you any more hesitant to use Facebook as a marketing channel?  Will your company sit on the sidelines to avoid seeing its name splashed across the newspapers as having done something wrong from a privacy perspective?

Share your thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *