Jun / 07

Yes – Facebook Screwed Up…But…

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Facebook is terrible, leave now, run for your lives!

There is no doubt that the privacy accorded to Facebook users needs to be upgraded, and that the ease of harvesting data through a survey that accessed friends data too was a massive screw up, but, there are are a few things to be taken into account before we all go completely doolally over social media.

  • The vast majority of interactions on social media are harmless, related to interests, family, friends and not a lot more. Pictures of places visited, wine drunk, events attended and more are not going to enable the corruption of an election.

  • What data was collected? How was it used? Your comments on the performance of Paul Pogba are there to be seen. Your reviews of a product or service are public. Your political outrage can be added to your profile data. Using Facebook to advertise, we can choose an audience by age, interests, gender, location, and income. Those interests can be whether you are pro or anti Brexit. We can then send them an ad related to the audience profile, but we cannot make them buy. We can share content that they can read, or not.

  • At no stage has it been suggested that Facebook tried to influence the electorate to follow their political line. Unlike Fox News, The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph etc. A lot of those media channels are owned by individuals or companies that have vested interests in getting the electorate to vote one way or the other.

  • And speaking of vested interests. Apart from the BBC, almost every other media channel is funded by and generates profits from advertising. The advertising world has changed beyond recognition in the past ten years, why, because of digital media channels with Google and Facebook taking more and more of the available budgets. Why? Because they are effective and can, well, target the right audience better. So who hates the new media? Surprise surprise, the old media! This is not to excuse Facebook, that we all agree has screwed up, but there should be some notification to you, the reader or viewer, that there is a potential conflict of interest.

  • Journalists love social media when it enables them to push their articles out to more people, They hate it when you are afforded equal status. The whole idea that you and I can be citizen journalists is an anathema to traditional media warriors. So they love having a pop at the new media and the new world. I know because I’ve been told first hand (but I don’t have evidence)

So the next time you hear a news report that Facebook and its data are the font of all evil, think for a minute about the media that is attacking it and remember that they are not completely unbiased.

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