I’m part of Generation X. Although most of the younger generations have transitioned to Tik Tok, Instagram and Snapchat, I’m still hanging with my mom, aunts and Boomer cousins on Facebook. I guess I can say, “there’s no shame in my ‘Like’ game.”
For years, I considered myself as a more realistic user of the app – I know they are capturing my information, serving ads based on that information and packaging it as a “better user-experience.” When the Cambridge Analytica drama unfolded, I was surprised to see how uninformed, or blind, the majority of the public is to social media. We continue to follow the ‘internet of things’ like moths to a flame with little understanding of what we’re giving up in return.
What is just as shocking are marketers’ inability to use tools like Facebook to sell products or services to qualified leads. The level of mis-understanding was clear when I downloaded my ‘Off Facebook’ data file from Facebook. “Off-Facebook activity is a summary of activity that businesses and organizations share with Facebook about your interactions, such as visiting their apps or websites. They Facebook’s Business Tools, like Facebook Login or Facebook Pixel, to share this information with Facebook.”
The most interesting piece of data from this Off Facebook Activity was the “Advertisers Who Uploaded a Contact List With Your Information” file. According to Facebook, this is the list of advertisers who send me ads because I opted into hearing from them myself or through a data partner. Did I really raise my hand to over 3500 advertisers? After an analysis of only 10 percent of the list, something seems off.
Roughly 97 percent of the advertisers who uploaded my contact information to serve me advertising are companies I did not agree to hear from, which is a violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions. My assumption is that the majority of these advertisers acquired my contact information through a data ‘partner’ or ‘broker’ as they are normally known, which adds to the complexity of knowing who is responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions – the data broker or the advertiser?
Finally, as I circle back to the ‘better user-experience’ that Facebook and others are promising in return for my private data; I wonder how seeing ads from over 3400 un-recognized advertisers is adding to my experience?