Luckily, the week started off with an insightful interview of Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, conducted by The Wall Street Journal’s Media and Marketing Reporter Lara O’Reilly.
Since the conversation was long and detailed, in this post we’ll detail the biggest takeaways from Everson’s thoughts on Facebook’s present and future. Here’s what the VP thinks about shadow profiles, third-party data, the midterm elections, and more.
Facebook is working to reassure marketers and advertisers after the latest hack
A recent “sophisticated attack” by hackers allowed them the ability to control around 50 million Facebook accounts, in another major blow to the world’s biggest social media network.
According to Everson, many of the marketers and advertisers she has spoken to have shown “empathy” for Facebook, understanding that cyberattacks are among the biggest threats that any company can face.
As for how Facebook has worked to ensure user and marketer safety, Everson said that the business team “put out a very practical guide over the weekend” with best practices, including understanding who the administrators are on an account. Everson said that Facebook ensured marketers that credit card information “could not have been taken by the hackers.”
A major cultural shift is underway at Facebook
In emphasizing that Facebook’s “entire existence” is to come in and serve people and marketers, Everson noted that the company taking responsibility for its power and influence marked a “cultural shift.”
“At the end of the day we have a responsibility to people,” Everson said, noting that recent scandals and issues like foreign interference in elections and misinformation was driving the company to change in a way that Cambridge Analytica couldn’t.
Between this recent hack and the larger questions of information and trust, Facebook is trying to change the perception that they don’t have users’ best interest at heart.
Facebook is deciding whether to use “shadow information” to advertise to users
Another area where Facebook has been getting heat is in their use of “shadow profiles” and other non-user data, as well as the information users provide for two-factor authentication, in advertising.
Everson talks are underway at Facebook to decide how best to use this information—if at all—going forward.
“We’re going to fix it,” she said. “Either we need to be much clearer about the fact that we’re utilizing this data because it’s not totally clear to users… Or we will no longer utilize it for ads.”
The issue here, according to Everson, isn’t that data is being used for advertising. It’s about transparency and control.
“The vast majority of people want their data to be utilized, but they want to be in control of it… because they don’t want their time wasted,” Everson said.
Facebook is working to ensure all data used on the site is “ethically sourced”
Facebook recently ended a major deal between the company and major data brokers, and as of Oct. 1 is no longer facilitating an automatic upload from a third-party data source in the U.S. (this change happened earlier in Europe). Why?
“Where did [this data] come from? Did consumers give permission to have that data be utilized in such a way? There is a burden of responsibility placed on the marketer,” said Everson. “… Our goal with this is to ensure that whatever data is utilized it ethically sourced and marketers have permission to use it.”
The platform learned a ton from the 2016 elections
Everson said that Facebook is “much more prepared” for the 2018 midterm compared to the 2016 presidential election, and has done a lot better with significant elections that took place around the world in the last two years.
According to Everson, Facebook is focusing on removing fake accounts, identifying operations of foreign interference, fighting fake news and misinformation (and drastically downgrading the spread of fake viral posts), reducing civic spam, and working with law enforcement on potential threats, 11th-hour and otherwise.
Facebook Business posted the conversation in full, and you can watch it here.
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