Last week there was a lot of news and talk about the abuse of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica.
If you did not read about the breach, here is the summary:
“Cambridge Analytica used a quiz app to scrape data such as users’ identities, their friend networks, and likes from millions of Facebook users. Users inadvertently gave consent by agreeing to the user conditions in the app. The company later used that data to build targeted political ads for political campaign’s, The New York Times, which conducted the investigation along with The Observer, reports. (read the full article here on Futurism)…”
I am not here to comment on whether or not this is right, wrong, or who is to blame whether it is Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Political Campaigns, or us as the end users.
I leave that judgment to you. To make on your own. To use the information available to you and to draw your own conclusion.
I do want to point out the obvious.
This is nothing new.
Big brands, marketing firms, advertising agencies, small businesses, governments, and political campaigns have been using these tactics for decades.
Whether it has been in the form of print ads, newspaper articles, radio spots, or television commercials “consumers” (defined as the end users of content) have always been subjected to messages that are trying to tell us a particular story.
If the messages are really good, they usually nudge us to take action.
An action based on emotions. The action to purchase, to join, to support, to share, or to participate.
The gold standard used to be demographics.
The ability to generate insights about groups of the population based on their education, nationality, religion, and ethnicity. If you are able to understand these common traits you can hopefully develop messages and stories that will resonate with segments of people and encourage them to take an action.
As our world continues to evolve, we have transitioned from demographics to psychographic segmentation.
The ability to understand smaller groups within a population allows us to design messages that will resonate with specific subsegments of people.
As we begin to understand people’s motivations, their patterns of thinking, how they perceive the world, and how they feel towards specific topics we can target audiences with more specific and precise messaging.
Again, this is nothing new. A prime example of this type of data is Nielsen Media Research.
In today’s world, it is not unimaginable to segment down to the zip code or street address of people and to understand their buying patterns, their watching patterns, as well as how their dietary choices, their activity level, or how they view the most recent political campaigns.
Facebook is not the originator of this type of business model, nor will they be the last. Google, Instagram, Snapchat, Nielsen, and many others have been doing this for years. Yes, even our hospitals and medical research have been in this business and will continue to be in this business.
It used to take months and sometimes years to generate this kind of insight and actionable data.
Today’s technology accelerates the generation, testing, implementation, and targeting of this insight. It now happens in clicks and is summarized in minutes.
With our blind acceptance and acknowledgment of the terms and conditions combined with our app happy downloads for ease and simplicity only exacerbates the problem.
We need to remember that we are consistently being marketed too.
We need to remember that with every click, swipe, and like that we generate data that is being used by others to develop more messages to target us and the people like us.
We need to remember that as we sit and point at Facebook and other social media companies that there are three fingers pointing back at us. We need to share in the blame. We need to own our own decisions.
We must be responsible for our decisions, our data, and the “news” we believe in the content we consume.
Just like the food we ingest, we too must take responsibility for stories we believe.
Delivering care, the consumption of content and building trust happen at the N of 1.
As always feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter and Instagram as CancerGeek