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Facebook didn't change its spots. Privacy and the future of social networks.

This week continues to look at the future of social networks, this time with a focus on privacy and t
Facebook didn't change its spots. Privacy and the future of social networks.
By Connected Paths (Riaz Kanani) • Issue #64 • View online
This week continues to look at the future of social networks, this time with a focus on privacy and the how Facebook is reacting to the new EU regulations. For part one see last week’s edition, which focused on data
For those B2B marketers worried about the new privacy regulations, I have written a whitepaper here.
As always - share via: LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter
Cheers - Riaz

Privacy is a fitting topic as only last week Facebook rolled out its new privacy options aimed at bringing it in line with the EU’s new GDPR legislation. 
Time and again though people do not seem to act unless it impacts them directly. The suggestion so far is that despite the heavy coverage around the profiles shared and allegedly misused by Cambridge Analytica, people are not deleting their accounts or even changing their privacy settings.
It is a delicate balancing act for Facebook – too much privacy and Facebook cannot survive without charging its users (more on that next week). But equally, if Facebook isn’t seen to be doing something in response, they fear reaching a tipping point and a mass exodus.
So the timing of their GDPR roll out could have been positive for Facebook - instead almost all the media focused on Facebook rolling out an option for EU citizens to agree to facial recognition, something which was banned previously due to an Irish ruling.
That is not great news for Facebook as it increases the perception of Facebook invading people’s privacy. 
Facebook will argue the media were always going to bash them, but their approach was hardly one of privacy first.
Instead, their approach is very much one of using the user interface to persuade people to share more information. It is not even subtle in places, with big blue buttons versus either grey/white buttons or worse, tiny blue hyperlinks to say no. 
Facebook’s PR focus is on the new privacy screen which is much simpler and cleaned up and now on one page - so a step in the right direction.
It is no surprise, Facebook used their interface to persuade people to select the answers Facebook wants them to but I wonder whether Facebook will be one of the first companies to be challenged under the new EU privacy regulations as their approach is hardly one of privacy by default and seems to include pre-checked boxes which are both supposedly no longer allowed. Clearly though, their lawyers think they are skirting on the right side of the law.
Potentially, Facebook is ready for this challenge and will simply roll out a paid for service as an alternative. That would of course be major news - more on the business model next week though.
Facebook's youngest members
During Zuckerberg’s testimony, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) pressed Zuckerberg to create new privacy protections for those under 18. He suggested that there should be a no-data-sharing policy until you’re 18 preventing third parties from accessing it. 
This was an issue pre-Snapchat. 
But all the research I have seen is that this is not a big issue today. The way millennials use Facebook is different to how they use social networks like Snapchat and Instagram (also owned by Facebook) precisely because they delete posts after 24 hours. 
However, Facebook has not made it difficult to prevent children accessing Facebook. US laws have resulted in Facebook’s rule that you need to be over 13 to join but it is trivial to bypass. 
Now EU’s privacy regulations require those between 13 and 15 to get parental consent to use the social network. Again, their privacy update makes it trivial to bypass, requiring users to add any Facebook friend or email address to verify them.
Facebook’s biggest challenge is internal
The culture inside Facebook is I believe their biggest long term threat. It manifests itself in the way they make decisions and respond to situations. 
It has resulted in myths about the length Facebook will go to track you. Google saw this threat early on and actively tried to stop the perception they misused people’s data. They may or may not have liked the “do no evil” mantra that a Google engineer came up with but it helped offset the perception.
Today, I repeatedly see suggestions that Facebook listens to conversations and targets adverts accordingly. If this were true and it came to light it would result in an extraordinary fine post the EU’s new data regulations. That ignores the loss of trust that would also result. 
The problem for Facebook is it is already there. 
Perception rules and the perception is that Facebook will do whatever it takes to make money and if that means listening to user’s conversations to target ads that is what they will do. That is a massive issue for the future of Facebook.
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Connected Paths (Riaz Kanani)

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