a spotter’s guide to the revolution: facebook, data rape, and social refugees

facebook has 2.2 billion active users worldwide — and most of them have had their data scraped “by outsiders without their explicit permission.”

In other words, without their consent.

people feel violated. and for good reason. the social media giant is plagued by scandals linked to their disrespectful behavior, sketchy privacy policies, and invasive innovation.

as horrifying as it is, the facebook problem has provided us all with a mirror. Facebook only works because we let it, and it won’t change unless we are all willing to give up the dopamine teat of scrolling our feed.

“I don’t believe our species can survive unless we fix this. We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them. In the meantime, if the companies won’t change, delete your accounts.” -jaron lanier

the majority of consumers, according to a forbes study, now demand transparency. “When a brand offers complete transparency, 94% of survey respondents are likely to be loyal to that brand. And when consumers switch to a brand in favor of increased transparency, they are likely to stay for the long haul. In fact, 56% said they would be very likely to stay loyal to a completely transparent brand for life.” We’ve seen businesses meet consumers halfway, putting their values front and center and letting ethics redefine the rules.

We, consumers and users, need to be willing to do the same. We need to take some personal heat.

we need a social network whose measure of success is different, one that mirrors the values we look for in other aspects of our lives. A network that expresses the same values we expect from the brands we vote for with our cash. And that’s part of the problem: Free. “First rock’s free” and now we’re hooked, with no sense of what free actually costs.

who will give the seedy middle man the boot? It’s proving more easily said than done. for users, #deletefacebook, is a chinese finger-box, impossible to get out of unscathed — and perhaps, more importantly, there’s nowhere to go. Facebook cord cutting makes us refugees with no safe haven in a global crisis of social climate change. If you had somewhere to go, would you leave?*

It’s no day in the park for business either. the platform has become a centerpiece of digital marketing efforts, accounting for 19.9% of digital ad spend in 2017. To give that context, recode just reported that “Digital ad spending reached $209 billion worldwide — 41 percent of the market — in 2017, while TV brought in $178 billion — 35 percent of the market — in 2017.”

what does a business do if their audience is no longer on facebook, and what kind of reaction does business have when the giant implements changes (as it did in January) that make it more difficult for that business’s audience to see their content? 

That’s the tactical part of the problem. but it’s also ethical. “When it comes to marketers, the issues were basically about measurement, impact, those kinds of things — now it’s become a larger issue which is about trust and law,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Growth Officer for the Publicis Groupe, in the New York Times. “Because of the recent events, the chief legal officer, the Chief Financial Officer, and the C.E.O. of every client company is asking, when we run campaigns on this platform, what data of ours are we sharing, what legal risk do we have and what reputational risk do we have, because now this has become a political hot-wire.”

While marketers may be frustrated right now, few have actually left Facebook. The company is the second-biggest seller of digital ads with $40 billion in annual revenue. Last week, Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, said at a conference that the company did not expect “major changes to our overall revenue and business model.”

Yeah, at what point does using facebook make us dirty?

It only works because we let it. Whether you’re a user hooked on the teat, a brand that pays facebook for user data, or a business that uses facebook’s data blind to target users, you’re participating. That makes us all complicit in the non-consensual use of our selves — complicit in the data rape.

I thought it would be no big deal to delete my Facebook account. I am a complete loser in the ways and means of social media mastery so it wasn’t a giant thing, and yet, it hurts. Maybe because it was small. I hit delete in a fit of pique and left behind people and communities that I care for. Now I have a bunch of texts and emails to send… I would do it differently after writing this, maybe a countdown clock and a going away party. I wish I had a forwarding address.