This morning I called in to CKNW 980 and debated with John McComb very briefly about whether or not we should be worried about our Facebook data and the fact that Cambridge Analytica has openly admitted to using very “dirty” tactics to attempt to sway election results, as read here in The Guardian.
Our debate got cut off due to time restraints so I decided to continue the conversation here. I am a huge fan of John’s and the 980 programming but I maintain that once you click that “accept” button to join Facebook you have given them the ability to use your data, and make a lot of your data readily available for public consumption. However, that does not mean that I align with the work of Cambridge Analytica. Companies regularly enter grey lines when it comes to their tactics and the free market is what gives us the opportunity to contribute to their model and revenue streams or out them and refuse to give them business. Let’s hope that this is the end of Cambridge Analytica’s work in political campaigns, and maybe that it entices Facebook to start cleaning up some of their “readily available for public consumption data” that is available via user’s profiles. It is in both party’s best interest.
If headlines like “TRUMP DATA FIRM CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA FILMED BOASTING ABOUT USING SEX WORKERS, BRIBES, FAKE NEWS TO WIN ELECTIONS” are true, Cambridge Analytica is a company that no one in their right mind should be wanting to associate with. (see http://www.newsweek.com/cambridge-analytica-trump-sex-bribes-851983).
However, I stand firm in my belief that you need to look at the bigger picture. Every day Facebook is bringing millions of family members together, friends are reconnecting and amazing content is being consumed. Of course there are going to be human beings who naturally try to take advantage of it, it is our flaw. But, platforms like Facebook need ad revenue. Without it, we wouldn’t have the platform (someone has to pay the bills).
Brilliant companies and brands are promoting content (even some politically engaged) that are heavily targeted to ensure the right people are seeing the right messaging. I for one would prefer to see advertisements for products, services, and content under an assumption that I will engage with it as opposed to broadly targeted content that means nothing to me. “If I am going to be forced to see advertisements, at least make them relevant”.
So, to John’s question. Should we delete our Facebook Profiles? My answer is no. We should continue to push big platforms like Facebook to do all they can to regulate the usage of our data, and out morally incorrect tactics used by companies like Cambridge Analytica, but I for one enjoy 90% of the content I consume on social media, and I know that is because data is being used to target me with it. In fact, data has been used in marketing for decades to attempt to determine what you want to see or hear.
Radio stations have specific genres that attract specific demographics. Advertisers pay to reach those demographics.
We sign up for loyalty cards to receive discounts and benefits, that data is being used.
When you purchase a new car, your file is used to determine when your next purchase will be made.
Yes the depths and ability to capture our “profile” is far more extreme than it has ever been before, but there is value in it as well.