Facebook, trust and the evils of data

|| February 7, 2019

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms social media coordinator

Facebook is in the news again – and this story is one of its most controversial. Facebook has been collecting data from countless users aged between 13 and 35 through a research program disguised as an app. In order to use this app, you had to give Facebook unfiltered permission to access your entire device, including messages, emails, internet activity and general usage. To sweeten the deal for users, Facebook was paying up to $20 a month for this access.

Does that sound a bit creepy? You bet. Apple has since deleted the app from its App Store.

This episode has serious trust implications for Facebook. And we know the importance of trust for any company.

I can draw on my own experience here, back to when I first heard the name Facebook. It was 2009 and I was in Year 9 at school and it had just become the most popular talking topic in the school yard amongst the Year 10 students.

The fear of missing out at such a young age was overwhelming and before dinner that night I was a Facebook user. I didn’t understand it but I felt like I had to be a part of it.

Fast forward 12 months and Facebook filled almost every vacant moment I had. I was in constant communication with friends, constantly viewing photos of friend’s parties on the weekend and viral videos by UniLad.

Almost every year from then Facebook forced a significant change in how I’d use it, and as a loyal user I adapted without question. At such a young and naïve time in my young life I developed this unbreakable connection with the social media. It was the same for everyone I knew.

Snapping back into reality, almost 10 years later and the unwavering trust I once had is now jolted.
The news of Facebook’s mining of data of young people was done with the user’s permission. But when you’re young and money is tight, $20 a month can be valuable. So what about privacy?

So, what does this mean to me? How do I feel? How is everyone else likely feeling?
To me, it’s another hole in the mainsail for Facebook’s trust among users.

Trust in a company is difficult to judge but it’s perhaps better understood with my reluctance to share my information in the way the app wants me to share.

Is there any other data mining methods we don’t know about?

Facebook is too big to fail on this point and it’s too valuable for many users.

It’s still a powerful platform and one that can help people and businesses spread messages for good. It’s a platform that can be the lifeblood of many businesses.

Used right, Facebook is a key part of a successful social media strategy.

But remember to keep eyes wide open and to ensure that you’re doing what you can to control your data.