Following last Sunday’s NYTimes report on Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data, many industry publications have been encouraging and providing detailed steps on how to limit the amount of data Facebook keeps on you as a user, with a few going so far as to encourage users to delete their Facebook accounts completely.
Users are clearly taking note as Google searches related to how to delete your Facebook profile have increased about 230% since two weeks ago, according to Google Trends. Interest spiked on March 21, and appears to be on a downward trend.
How many people are actually deleting their accounts though? There’s no way to know for sure. Recent consumer backlashes against other tech companies would seem to indicate the numbers are small. Despite a very vocal outrage at Uber for rampant corporate sexual harassment, data shows that few users actually deleted the app.
What This Means for Marketers
For brands that use Facebook as a marketing platform, now is the time to revisit how you protect your consumers’ data online.
Some brands are already pulling back on use of the platform. Mozilla has ceased all Facebook advertising indefinitely. Sonos is taking a one week hiatus in hopes of drawing more attention to the network’s issues. Tesla is receiving the most amount of attention after Elon Musk shut down both Tesla and Space X’s Facebook Pages – seemingly on a whim.
These brands are likely to generate a small amount of industry media chatter and then will start realizing they’ve made a mistake. Facebook and their network of sites is such a behemoth in the digital advertising space that brands who remove them from their marketing mix will struggle to succeed. Facebook alone accounts for nearly 50 minutes of the average users’ day. Once you add the Facebook ecosystem that includes Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and others, you’re reaching into consumers’ every day lives.
So what can you do about this?
Brands need to put pressure on Facebook to protect their data. They must demand assurance that their consumer data uploaded via pixels, Custom Audience lists and more will be treated properly. We encourage all advertisers to re-review Facebook privacy terms and ensure you are comfortable with how Facebook uses your organization’s data.
But it doesn’t stop there. Tech brands have the opportunity to work alongside Facebook data engineers to push Facebook to change their current approach to using consumer data. Industry regulation would ensure consumers stick with the platform and that marketers still have access to the data that makes Facebook such a powerful advertising platform – without misusing consumer data along the way.
If we don’t start taking action? People could actually delete their Facebooks sooner than you’d think.