Facebook, Privacy and Customer Service

Facebook has been getting a lot of flak recently for their privacy shenanigans – all of which, frankly, is more than fair.  As a user of Facebook, the issues with their lack-of-regard for our privacy is a personal concern.  As a potential advertiser, they are even more so.

It’s interesting really, that if you consider it – Facebook is getting into trouble for trying to provide the best possible customer service they can.  However, you need to realise that their customers aren’t their users – it’s their advertisers.  And advertisers, in general, want a lot of information.

The higher the ability to micro-target (e.g. for us – it’d be in general men, making over 40,000 a year, with no children or children over the ages of 8, who have played or bought designer board games in the last 6 months).   In fact, Facebook could potentially (and in some cases, were) giving that information out.  Being able to micro-target to that degree means that you’re likely to see a much higher conversion rate, which means a much higher number of sales for a much lower cost.

That’s actually a good thing for both consumers & businesses if both sides are in agreement.  Consumers get told about businesses / games that they’re interested in, businesses reduce their costs in marketing, hopefully passing on those savings to their customers.

However, Facebook is (and I use the present tense because I am sure they’ll go back to their old ways once the furor dies down. Again.) taking away the consumer’s choice in  this matter.  It’s actually bad – because in the long run, consumers get upset and the businesses conversion rates fall as they grow ever more cynical.

The only real way to make Facebook stop (other than mass immigration by users) is by advertisers (Facebook’s true customers) voicing their displeasure (i.e. voting with their wallets).  It’s one of the reasons why I’ve stopped advertising on Facebook a while ago.  Of course, saying that, I’m probably shooting myself in the foot because it is effective advertising.  You get a lot for what you pay for. Still, there are other avenues and other places to advertise – and it’s not as if I am exactly rolling in advertising dollars.