Everyone by now has heard about the pickle that Facebook is in with Cambridge Analytica, the U.S. government and most of America. It's never a good thing when you've exposed data on 50 million users and the fact it's compounded by political ties and tales doesn't help it settle well with people who have given most of their information..and a good chunk of their lives...to a company they trusted for years.
Regardless of your political leanings or your personal thoughts on the matter, this situation does provide some valuable lessons for marketing. As marketers, we are constantly working to learn more about our customers and prospects and transfer that knowledge into databases that will make us more accurate with our messaging and positioning. The inherent understanding of collecting and using that information is that we will use it properly, protect it from outside breaches or influences and only use what's relevant for our business purposes. It appears that Facebook failed on all three measures.
I think we've all accepted that companies have a lot of information on us depending on our level of interaction with them, but social media sites like Facebook take the cake about what they know about us. We put a lot of stuff in these platform about ourselves, but I think we all feel there is a line about what should and shouldn't be used. I can accept a company targeting me about my job or that I like music, but using it for purposes beyond selling me something that I may find appealing based on information I've put it is where the line gets blurry. This is where a data code of ethics can help your company truly understand what data is collected, what it can be used for and what you can't do with it.
It also appears that Facebook was a little fast and loose with their control protocols and marketers should take note of that as well. Lines do have to be drawn about who can access data and procedures about its use have to be in place. It is flawed logic to think that everyone is your marketing organization should have the ability to access data. Have the control structure in place to make sure that your data is used in the right way and only for the right business purposes.
I hope that all the marketers take some good lessons from what has happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. If you have an issue you may not end up on the front page or in front of a congressional committee, but it will impact your career with your company for sure. Be the data steward you should be and you will continue to add value to the organization.