What the Facebook Privacy Scandals and Google Hearings Mean for Digital Marketers

If your in digital marketing or if your business has an online presence of any scale, the data privacy events that are carrying on to the present day should be a wake up call.

There’s, of course, Facebook who closed out 2018 with YET another privacy scandal, this time around involving the collection of private customer data through apps. In a nutshell, their partners sent customer data they collected without the consent of users to the social media giant, which Facebook then stored.

At the same time, Google’s Ceo Sundar Pichai faced Congressional hearings about different privacy issues, facing a BARRAGE of questions about the use of social media platforms, foreign influence and how Silicon Valley execs are tackling such influence.

The implications of these hearings and scandals for the digital marketing industry and online businesses are far-reaching – for one, consumers have a greater understanding of privacy issues, which increases the need for tighter privacy controls and more transparency in how companies handle data.

But with all this commotion in data privacy – how can you as a startup, a blog operator, an e-commerce player or marketing professional adapt in ways that keep you competitive? And most importantly, in ways that don’t result in the same turmoil as Facebook?

Read further as we’ve detailed 4 VERY crucial steps to take.

[Related Article: How to Write an Online Privacy Policy for Greater Customer Trust and Engagement]


(Jacquelyn Martin / AP)


What are the Facebook Privacy Scandal and Google Hearings?

The latest Facebook privacy scandal is just one in a long string of blows against the company in the last year. In April 2018 it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, had been harvesting Facebook user data without user permission, and using it for political purposes. Then, Facebook was discovered to be sharing user data with other large companies without user permission, such as Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify.

Now in 2019, Facebook’s mobile software development kit (SDK) was collecting user data through the apps it was used to develop.

At the same time, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been examining the impact of foreign influence on social media platforms in the US, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook.

Pichai testified in front of the Committee, and discussed issues such as the security bugs which revealed the private profile information of Google Plus users, resulting in the company shutting down the social network.


What They Mean and 4 Ways of How You Can Adapt

Privacy issues in relation to Facebook and Google will put consumers on alert, as many people begin to realize that their private data is not being protected or well taken care of. Digital marketers will need to adapt to these changes in the industry – here’s how you can stay ahead. 


1. Marketer’s Need to be Informed Around Greater Privacy Issues

First, marketers will have to take greater care around privacy issues in general, and will need to make sure that they have a solid understanding of privacy laws and practices. For example, in Europe the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has recently come into force, and this law requires more comprehensive privacy policies to be used by companies and those dealing with personal user data.

Digital marketers can ensure that marketing releases and posts are made in line with these legal frameworks, and that all personal data is stored safely and in accordance with GDPR rules. Having an easy-to-read privacy policy can also help consumers to feel a greater sense of trust, because being able to understand the privacy issues and how their data is used allows them to feel more secure.


2. Marketers Will Have to Diversify

Marketers may also have to adapt by shifting towards the use of platforms that are seen as more reputable, such as moving marketing campaigns away from Facebook. These scandals don’t seem to have affected too many marketing campaigns just yet, especially with larger brands who have already established customer trust and goodwill.

If you continue using Facebook for campaign purposes, you may need to be more aware of Facebook updating its rules on customer data use, and how this affects your campaigns as things develop. Regardless, it’s good practice to diversify marketing channels and consider other approaches, as this may allow you to be a step ahead of the pack in the event that consumers begin moving away from Facebook.


3. Marketers Will Have to Be More Open

Finally, digital marketers should be more open with consumers about their data collection and the data they use, where they obtain it from, and what they use it for. With increased customer apprehension about privacy issues, greater transparency from marketers and platforms can help to rebuild customer trust.

A Virent survey shows that of the more than 24,000 consumers surveyed, 80% said that people like services that are personalized to their needs. But consumers are wary of the way their private information is stored by businesses.

Transparency is the new marketing gold. And there’s a case to be made for using technology and analytics to better understand user behaviour, but without being intrusive and crossing the line.


4. Marketers Will Have to Create New Incentives 

Stricter privacy laws also mean that marketers will need to incentivize consumers to share their data. What does this look like? Consider incentivizing individuals to provide you with more information by giving them rewards and/or benefits in return.

Make a customer feel comfortable about handing over their date of birth and phone number by providing tools that easily allows them to edit their privacy settings, in conjunction with these incentives, which might include discounts, free shipping, reward points, or limited-time offers.


Avoiding Your Own Facebook Privacy Scandal

The Facebook data privacy breaches and the Google congressional hearings will definitely come with impacts for digital marketers and the work they do, but most of the complications can be alleviated with careful planning.

Take greater care with how you inform your customers and users of privacy issues by having a comprehensive and easy-to-read privacy policy, increase transparency in what you do, and shift towards more-reputable platforms if necessary.



Written By Editorial Team

Along with the blog’s editors, we’re a collective of writers aimed at providing valuable industry insights and educational resources for DIY’ers, entrepreneurs, professionals and hobbyists. We range from former scientists, research students to enthusiasts and freelancers. Have a question or suggestion? Reach us at [email protected]