Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg posted his manifesto on Facebook’s new focus on privacy, emphasizing a few key points:
- Ephemeral Posts
This sounds great. However, like many things that Zuck does with Facebook, what it appears to be on its surface and what the actual cause and effect are is vastly different.
The push behind this helps Facebook correct its optics in regard to privacy. By appearing to embrace hard-core privacy measures in a way that seems a little damaging to it as a brand (Public posts are actually useful), users feel comforted, and congress is placated. To really understand the purpose behind this move, we have to understand Facebook’s Business Model.
Most people see Facebook simply as a service provided to us – the customer. Facebook’s web and mobile apps and platforms are the product which we consume. With this outlook, it’s very easy to look at Facebook’s moves toward privacy as a brand giving its customers what they want, and protecting them against scams, hackers, and data snoops. What is wrong with that?
The problem here is that Facebook’s primary business model is almost exactly opposite of that. And a push toward privacy is not going to change that. Facebook’s customers are advertisers; its product is your data. That’s not going to change. Facebook doesn’t care about privacy. They care about controlling production of monetizable data. But this gives them great optics and further complicates marketers who are interested in audience data. There is no way these changes don’t take even more data away from brands who use Facebook to interact and engage with their audiences. It certainly effectively shuts out any 3rd party data analysis – an industry that in the last year has been decimated by Facebook’s increasing antagonism toward any company using Facebook’s content for insights.
To be fair, it’s easy to forget this fact. Facebook’s Ad Management and developer platforms are so slow, buggy, and difficult to use, you would be forgiven if you believed that these platforms were not Facebook’s core product offering. How they treat their actual customers with such disdain and stay in business is truly a testament to the power Facebook commands. However, this recent move may help break that power.
I don’t believe the average Facebook user cares about these things. However, as Facebook tightens to noose on data, brands who rely on that data for decision making and sales are going to increasingly turn elsewhere. I’m already testing alternatives for the majority of my ad spend. Brands have to pay to reach more than 10% of their audiences with their content, at this point, and it’s unlikely any additional tools in analyzing Facebook Pages and content will continue to work.
It’s a fair time to point out what I’ve been saying for years: