It may come as a surprise to many, and an irony to most, but as a digital marketer I am terrified about the future Facebook intends in the world of advertising. The search engine has played a key influential role in the expansion of many big and small businesses making a name for themselves in the ecosystem of commerce today. When Facebook launched, it was a huge disruption to conventional forms of advertising, and throughout time entire industries have become dependent on Facebook's paid social channel to grow their leads and sales. But what does it mean to lend a single entity this much power in an age where corporations are selling out their clients for the highest bidder?
For those of those of you not in the know about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in a heap of trouble with the Federal Trade Commission for an unwarranted data breach of about 50 million users. What this means is that scammy apps (or really any apps) have access to your profile (ie. any company Facebook chooses to bid your profile to).
'But who cares if corporations know I like Jalapeño flavored Cheetos right?'
'But who cares if corporations know I like Jalapeño flavored Cheetos right?' Wrong. The entire platform is a lab and you are the rat; every choice, every interaction you have on the site is logged, mined and sold to advertisers who want to suck a profit off of you.
'But I can just ignore the ads, I don't care.'
It's so much more than that.
Not only can buyers define every niche of your interests, your family history, who and what you associate with, but they know your psychology. If this doesn't sound like bad news to you then you're not paying enough attention to what's happening in the world. Advertising is innocent enough, (at least from the perspective of capitalism) but what happens when advertising becomes propaganda? When entities don't just want to sell you a box of kleenexes? It's only innocent until it's not and by then it's too late.
But not only is this a threat to individuals it's also a threat to businesses. Many of you have heard me talk at LENGTH about the new algorithms put in place by Facebook and it's sister, Instagram. If you don't know what I'm talking about here's the gist: Facebook and Instagram now prioritize the posts you see based on the probability you'll interact with it. It evaluates this probability on a variety of variables mainly your relationship to the poster, the content itself, and your community's response. So if you've been seeing a significant number of interactions go down on your posts lately, this is why. However, for many businesses that rely on Facebook and Instagram for it's advertising this news is catastrophic. Before, businesses could post freely on their pages knowing their content would be seen by their audience without restriction (the old algorithm organized posts based on relevance and chronology). With the new changes however, now it's much harder to predict how successful a post will be organically on it's own. How does this impact businesses you ask? Instead of relying on their organic fanbase to drive traffic to their products and services, businesses have to funnel more money into Facebook's and Instagram's paid social channels. To be clear, this is a form of monopolization that pits all businesses against each other while Facebook reaps the profit. Of course, this system of advertising is good news for large companies that can throw a ton of money at paid social channels. But smaller companies that rely on organic relationships to drive sales are at a severe disadvantage. All the while, Facebook now has completely unregulated and all assuming power to decide variables like cost per click, audience size, and visibility; their only competitor being Google. On top of that, there's no way to tell if the traffic you're paying Facebook to send to your page are real people.
So please, if anything else, protect your information. These people are not your friends no matter how many bright, shiny colors they flash across your screen. We live in an age where the dominoes are just waiting to topple over; don't make yourself vulnerable if it happens.