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.