We initially meant to write about a study just released by the Pew Research Center that reported that a quarter of Americans are online almost constantly, coupled with an experiment by ABC News that showed what happens when kids have no screen time limits for 48 hours. Taken together, both pieces indicate the potential damage that technology can do to us, without proper oversight.
And while that point still remains, there’s another story that has dominated the news cycle for the past week that also addresses the intended and unintended consequence of unmonitored technology: the Cambridge Analytica / Facebook story. In case you’ve been disconnected, here’s everything you need to know about the issue. Let’s be clear about one thing: this was not a data breach; this was an exploitation of what Facebook had made available; it’s something that marketers were aware of and using themselves and it’s far from being unique to Facebook: it’s Amazon, it’s Angry Birds, it’s eBay –it’s every service you use that’s free.
Companies are guilty of giving away their own data or access to data about their customers as well. Any company that has made its products available on Amazon loses the opportunity to have a 1:1 relationship with them. By pouring money into Facebook advertising rather than your own email marketing database, they miss the obvious opportunity to speak directly with their customers. They let the middleman own the process and the data (because it’s easier) rather than take on the responsibility themselves. This is exactly why we counsel our clients to #OwnYourData.
We’re either woefully ignorant about the terms of service or end user license agreements (EULAs) that we “agree” to, with as much thought as a swipe right or left, or we’re willingly giving up our rights in exchange for the free use of a platform. As Shelly Palmer wrote, “we [as a society] need to raise our level of data maturity.” When the regulatory process begins – and it will begin soon – we need to do it from an informed perspective.
We’ve got more to say on Facebook’s response and what it says about their leadership later this week. Please subscribe to the Brain+Trust Partners blog to be updated when it’s published.