Facebook Responsibilities and Resolution
Back to Facebook’s scope-creep related to their core mission. Who do they serve and who do they want to serve? Connecting families or fanatics? Connecting business and consumers? Serving politics or country-by-country parochial interests? Common sense should tell you that ALL of the above is an enormous task – unless you’re a young Tiger, who 16 years ago, was college drop-out and now owns the world. Only in America can this happen
Hopefully, the Zuckerberg testimony will propel people to RE-THINK their purpose for being on social media? Is it to reach and be discovered by the world, your best friend in the third grade, your family and friends, promote your business, or recruit for a cause?
There are more segmented venues today and more evolving where you ONLY post the minimum information needed and appropriate for that venue. For some this may be as simple as an e-business card linking you to other venues that are designed to securely contain more social or business information enabling you to reach a specific audience. Each community host can now more effectively manage their community participants and be measured by finite community standards and expectations.
This dilemma sets-up a cloning scenario for multiple Facebooks – such as Facebook Social, Facebook Business and Facebook Political – each with different set of rules recognizing the adopters will willingly subscribe for a specific and directed purpose and mission.
This is a common practice in business – we don’t have one BAR that serves everyone. People migrate to a bar that meets their need. If you go to a Biker Bar you may, or may not, be comfortable – but it is your choice to stay or find a bar that meets your agenda. This same logic applies to member communities.
Back to “whos information is it anyway?” Yes, free or fee, your data belongs to you. It is your information, but you must be smart as to where you post it and how much you post.
Let’s look at the challenges facing Facebook today. Yes, it is your data. You post it and you control your pro-active share – but not who can see it. Facebook does not sell your data or distribute it – they protect it from bots and people who try to mine it in mass to sell it to others in the open market – much like the old list business. But, is that enough?
Facebook has three (3) major challenges.
The first problem is who is real and who is fake. Fake profilers provide a wonderful haven for bad actors, political pulpits, cults, and hate speech to showcase their “message.” They are the magicians who can deceive and draw you in to their liar.
Therefore, Facebook has to proactively and reactively find them and remove them. They do that today by responding to member complaints. That is their first line of defense. They are working on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and facial recognition to pro-actively do this going forward. That technology verification should excite people on the left who view voter ID’s as discriminatory.
But, even with AI, what standards are they using to judge what is OK and not OK? Who is judge and jury? How can you avoid steeling one idea at a time and recreating the fake Facebook profile. If am there to be discovered by the world – how can you control who sees my profile and insure they are not non-believers or offended for what I stand for? How can you protect the people with a different point of view, or too young to judge right from wrong? The ONLY answer is segmented communities. “Birds-of-a-feather” flock together for a common purpose.
Second, APPS are an integral community practice of adding function, features and the integration of technology to improve the community experience. They are crafted by third party developers and they are approved by Facebook to “Play by the Facebook Rules,” which includes consumer privacy. Most APPs pull key information from your Facebook data, as well as request additional information enhancing the APP functionality. They ask for your permission to do this. This data is assembled and maintained on APP Developer computers. However, this assembled collection of consumer opt-in data represent another source for breach of consumer privacy.
They, like Cambridge Analytica, can breach their Facebook Agreement and suffer the consequence. It is Facebook’s responsibility to insure thousands of third party APP developers guard and protect user data because Facebook , not the APP developer, theoretically and legally owns the customer. Some will argue with opt-in who really owns the customer. This is back to the Facebook and APP developer contract. Note: today, when a cow escapes the barnyard and wonders on the road and is hit by a car the farmer is liable. It is the farmers responsible to secure their livestock. Facebook shares the same liability.
This was the breach by an APP developer, who is liable for their actions from Facebook and consumer class action suits. It is a simple breach-of-contract.
Third, advertisers pushing messages to targeted members of Facebook. Facebook and other free sites can only exist through targeting their members for advertisers. This is a $40 billion dollar/year business with Facebook. When we considered that at Equifax in the 1990’s, we were way ahead of the bell curve.
Facebook does not sell the data to advertisers, like the old days, but contracts with the advertisers to accept the ad, the advertiser’s audience criteria, and then provides the Facebook platform engine to TARGET Facebook member. Targeting means they will display the ad to the members who meet the advertiser criteria or execute an event.
Advertisers are charged based on views, which makes sense. Again, Facebook has the responsibility to screen every ad and every criteria to judge what is appropriate and what is not. Facebook is in full control of the member match and presentation. Again, Facebook are Judge and Jury on appropriateness. If the ad is political, controversial and reflect all of the values of young, old, senior or politically correct groups, Facebook targeting can, with a high degree of accuracy, target the correct groups. Or, can they?
They are NOT selling consumer data – they are targeting – but today, the consumer has no say as to what criteria they want to be targeted. Only big brother knows what is best. Or, do they?
Mr. Zuckerberg ducked the question that one of his officer’s addressed earlier in an interview. The issues was that Facebook was considering charging members who wanted to opt-out of being targeted or receiving Ads. We do this today on mobile phone APPs. Free APPS have advertising and fee-APPS do not.
Premium Member services are growing trends and accepted practices in large member communities, such as Microsoft’s LinkedIN. Free only buys you so much. Want more – expect to pay for it. Nothing wrong with that business logic – except when you give something away for free – customers are reluctant to start paying for something they got free. Many get mad or today they trash the giver on social media. Country Club memberships differ in price for a reason.
In addition to segmentation, Facebook will have to consider free Facebook and Premium Facebook with more member protection and features. Ca-ching…Ca-ching as the Facebook cash register continues to sing.
Finally, a little note on Artificial Intelligence. Facebook has recognized the need and has the bucks to nail this big time. AI is a double-edge sword. It can help protect consumers, but it can also give Facebook more targeting leverage on data they don’t own. This is back to who is judge and jury setting the rules governing the AI engines. It is also difficult to regulate this degree of techno granularity. From a member data perspective, does AI give me more help or does it represent more exposure?
Therefore, it is back to the consumers choosing which BAR to frequent based on their lifestyle and preferences. If they can’t make that decision, then the Government can’t help – even though some believe “thinking straight” should be a government’s role for many of its citizens.