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The Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal: Should Your Business Stay on Facebook?

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Unless you have been in a cabin deep in the woods without access to the outside world, you are probably aware of Facebook’s recent troubles. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has been at the top of the news for the last couple weeks. The coverage culminated last week with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg being called to Washington D.C. for two days of testimony. We didn’t learn anything new but it did make for good headlines.

I’m in a marketing communication group on Slack where we discuss everything related to our profession. Facebook has been a hot topic. The question came up of what to say to a client that was nervous about his company’s continued involvement on the platform. That lead’s us to today’s topic. With the scandal in mind, should your business stay on Facebook?

What happened

In a nutshell, a researcher built an app that captured the data of those that used it as well as information about their friends. The researcher then transferred the data obtained to third parties, a violation of Facebook policy. One of those parties was a data firm, Cambridge Analytica, who reportedly has ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The data was detailed enough to create psychological profiles and included the location of the user. The data has been reported to have been used in Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign as well as the Brexit vote in 2016. Facebook estimates that data was obtained from 87 million of its users.

Facebook claims that when they found out about the issue they contacted Cambridge Analytica and asked them to delete all the data in question. Cambridge Analytica alleges that they complied but it has been reported that this is false. The scandal has raised the larger question of whether Facebook has been lax about data security and the ethical standards of social media/internet companies.

A #DeleteFacebook movement was started. Such high profile personalities such as Tesla founder Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Cher have announced that they have left Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg has stated that they haven’t seen significant numbers of people leaving the platform.

Should your business be on Facebook

Facebook is still the largest social media network in the world with over 2 billion active users. The company has become an integral part of people’s lives. While there are other social media networks, none comes close to the activity that is seen on Facebook.

There is not a business reason why you shouldn’t be on Facebook. The company, along with Google, dominate the online ad market. Yes, Facebook has information about its users. The information is freely shared. It’s this data that is used to hyper-target people when running ads. It’s worth pointing out that your company doesn’t have access to this data. You are not liable for anything Facebook does.

Bottom line: If you were my client I would tell you should be on Facebook.

Shane Carpenter
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