How We Give Up Personal Info to Facebook and Related Apps, and What It Means to Marketers

It’s all the buzz in circles of marketers in transportation and logistics who leverage Facebook and other social media channels for their efforts. With Facebook under fire for allegedly improperly collecting and misusing the data of as many as 50 million users, it has prompted scrutiny from users and marketers alike.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted publicly that this was a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with Facebook, and has made a pledge: “We need to fix that.”

What this means to marketers is still unclear. But what IS clear is that most marketers in transportation and logistics do feel a sense of obligation to build trust among their key stakeholders, customers, prospects, business partners, and employees. And how we leverage our use of social channels can have an influence on that trust.

So How Did We Get Here?
Users give away a significant amount of personal data to Facebook – and oftentimes freely give it away to third parties without really knowing how the information will be used. As marketers (and fundamental users) of Facebook, it can be important for us to understand the fundamental ways we hand over personal information that include everything from our hobbies, our birthdays, and our family relationships to who we’re friends with online. Like it or not as users, harvesting this information then can be used to create sophisticated, successful marketing strategies that will generate results.

How Users Give Up Personal Info to Facebook and Apps
Understanding how users give up their personal information can be a first step in understanding how we make sure we don’t overstep our promise of trust to our key stakeholders. Here are the primary ways this is done:

First, users give up personal info by simply signing up for a Facebook account. Some believe Facebook has little info on them because they seldom use it. While you may be a “lurker,” you may be surprised at how much data Facebook really has on you.

In fact, if you’re interested to learn what data Facebook has about you, follow these steps to download your personal Facebook history. You’ll discover interesting things you never would think were stored on a server about you. The archive contains a list of IP addresses you’ve used to logged into your Facebook account, cell phone numbers associated with your account, and ads you’ve previously clicked on. Facebook also tracks this type of data you entered onto the platform:

  • A facial recognition ID that is associated with your photo and is used to identify images of you
  • Personal information such as your hometown, your addresses, your maiden name, and your political views
  • Credit card information
  • Networks you’re associated with, such as colleges you’ve attended or companies you’ve worked for

Second, users give up personal information just by using Facebook. As a marketer, you probably know that Facebook keeps details on all your personal preferences and every one of your “likes,” which helps marketers to leverage that data for exact ad targeting. Facebook also logs behavior over time and logs every reaction you’ve ever made on the social media platform. In a sense, when users react to Facebook posts they are participating in an ongoing consumer survey. In addition, Facebook stores every status update you’ve ever posted, every Messenger chat, every place you’ve checked in, and items you’ve searched for. This repository of rich personal data is quite amazing and sophisticated, really.

In addition, users give up data when they sign into third-party apps. Users historically have appreciated the convenient option of logging into a third-party application with their Facebook credentials. When you click “continue,” you’re enabling this app to access a significant amount of personal data Facebook has collected about you.

How this recent breach of trust by Facebook changes the personal data available to marketers is still unknown, but it’s likely to complicate things in the marketing world. TMSA will continue to monitor the situation and report back on developments.

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