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Stop Fearing Facebook’s Data Use, Learn About It!

Social media


So the Facebook stakeholder’s money-making merry-go-round continues on its path of finding new revenue streams.   This may seem strange due to the fact that the only numbers we’ve been hearing from Facebook over the past few years have usually been followed by enough zeros for you to wonder if it’s binary code!

Last week Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan, sent an all-user email proposing updates to their Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights. For this article, let’s just focus on the DUP.  They say:

 “As part of this proposed update, we revised our explanation of how things like your name, profile picture and content may be used in connection with ads or commercial content to make it clear that you are granting Facebook permission for this use when you use our services.”

 How that might come across to some might be:

Just to let you know, anything you upload or share on Facebook is ours and we can use it in any way we want!”

 This sentiment has been met with some pretty fierce feedback:

Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3
This was just a few of the comments I found.  Their responses don’t appear to be of genuine concern based on knowing exactly what the proposals mean.  To me they’re based on fear of what they don’t understand.  This is the problem that Facebook is up against.  Their platform is used by over 1 billion people and the vast majority of them are just regular folk who struggle to find where to block their ‘friends’, let alone know what the EdgeRank algorithm is.

A very well timed example of this was my musician brother who posted this on Facebook only this morning:

Tom Moriarty Comment

This kind of reaction is understandable.  Like many people he’s got a busy life but knowing him as well as I do that ‘Right…’ should be replaced with many other words, some of them not appropriate for this blog! Working in social, I was quick to respond:

My Response

As you can see my point is pretty clear.  The onus is on us the user to understand the privacy settings and make sure they are setup to our liking.  Although Facebook have had their issues in the past with privacy settings, they are tightening everything up and when you think about the scale of their platform, they are doing a fantastic job at keeping your account secure.

I believe people need to stop fearing Facebook and start appreciating it and learning about it. For most people, they take all the money spent and hours worked by Facebook for granted.  After all, when Facebook first set out they would have had no idea how many people would buy into the idea.  For a generation it has become the norm with people making daily if not hourly pilgrimages to the site.

Whether people think it’s a waste of time or not, Facebook has exceeded every expectation possible and left every other social network drowning in its wake. If you’re a regular user, imagine how you would feel if Facebook shut down tomorrow?  Or to put it another way, if Facebook announced tomorrow they are to charge a monthly subscription, would you pay it?

Facebook proposing this update should only be seen as a positive thing as it only highlights even more the importance of understanding the privacy setting on your account.  It’s received a lot of press attention (naturally) and what the proposals contain shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  However for the vast majority of Facebook users it is, because they don’t take the time to learn about Facebook.

I’m fully aware that for most people Facebook is a downtime environment and fiddling around with your account settings is not high on the priority list.  I also know it’s easy for me to say this because it’s my job to know about these things but even before I was working in this industry I took the time to ensure I was happy with my privacy settings.  If there was something I wasn’t sure on, there are so many blogs that can help you through the process.

The crux of it is this from Facebook:

“If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.”

So next time you login, take a little time to familiarise yourself with your settings and set them up how you would like. Search any questions you might have as you’ll probably find the answer within a few minutes. If you don’t, persevere and learn more about the platform.

Once you’ve done that, and you’re wondering if my brother’s music is any good, have a listen! You might like it.