Facebook can be a very powerful tool for people, companies, and advertisers. It allows us to connect with one another instantaneously across the entire globe. As advertisers, Facebook’s targeting features allows us to target users not possible just 10 years ago. From geographic targeting to age, behavioral, interests, lookalikes, retargeting, and even life events we have a plethora of ways to get our brand in front of potential customers. However, with all these options one must ask the question. At what point do we need to be asking if Facebook is being responsible enough with all the data it keeps on its users?
Facebook has made news recently for its advertising platform, and not in a good way. We have seen the company come under fire for allowing Russian influence over the presidential election by advertisements being bought by the foreign entity in an effort to sway people’s opinions. Fake news sites were being created, fake news stories were being written, and those stories were then being advertised to select people with certain political opinions in an effort to sway their opinion. All of this was slipping past Facebook’s review process and may very well have influenced the election to some degree.
Despite all the flak they have been receiving in the media, Facebook is adamant that they can rise to the expectations. They have a firm belief that their system is a great tool for connecting businesses with their customers. They further stated that even with the powerful tool they have created they absolutely do not sell personal information like names, emails, and phone numbers.
In an effort to be more transparent with the digital community Facebook, and more specifically Rob Goldman the VP of Ad Products, wanted to highlight to the public what their advertising principles are. Below are what Facebook has said are the principles that guide them:
- We build for people first.
- We don’t sell your data.
- You can control the ads you see.
- Advertising should be transparent.
- Advertising should be safe and civil; it should not divide or discriminate.
- Advertising should empower businesses big and small.
- We’re always improving our advertising.
These principles weren’t created in response to the media backlash Facebook has been receiving. They have been a part of the social network site for some time. So while they made an effort to bring these principles to light for the general public to be aware of, it will be interesting to see if they can abide by these principles more closely in the future. As we all know the digital space is an ever-changing place. One week something is viral and the next its forgotten. The same goes for advertising. One month a certain targeting method is effective and then two months later we must adjust. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for large advertising platforms like Facebook to get it right 100% of the time. Yet as advertisers we must educate ourselves on the tools we are using. It is important to point out flaws in our tools so we can work to make them more effective, efficient, and ethical.