Facebook is Sharing Data? Shocking!

The main question I have about Facebook allowing apps to collect (and keep) user data is, “Who didn’t know this was going on?”

Seriously? You play the FB games to learn which celebrity you’re most like or what your “real” age is or what your personality IQ is, and you don’t think that someone, somewhere devised the quiz for a commercial purpose? You get asked questions about your habits, likes, and dislikes, and you don’t suspect that the software is collecting data about you for some reason?

When you click to play/answer a quiz you’re told that the app is going to have access to all sorts of your personal information, often including your contacts. You have to say, “Okay”!

Hootsuite Login ScreenPerhaps the most obvious collectors/sharers of data with Facebook  are the other websites and services that allow you sign into them using your Facebook (or Twitter or ….) accounts.

You have to agree to let them see and use at least some of your Facebook information as part of the login process. Did you think that these other sites and applications were not getting information about you and your habits from Facebook at the same time they were telling Facebook what they knew about you? Again, seriously?

Facebook — and many other social sites, games, and apps, are free. They sell ads like the free old-time television. But, they know more about you than the broadcasters who sent the same commercial to everyone in America. Apparently people didn’t expect that Facebook would use the knowledge they have to sell more ads and make more money.

Facebook has made mistakes. It said that it didn’t share information when it had, and it didn’t get back information from places like Cambridge Analytica it said it would. And, Mark Zuckerberg and others have dissembled on the topics of privacy and data sharing.

But, I worry about the uproar focusing on Facebook and the follow-on idea that you can pass data storage laws that are going to keep your information safe on the Internet. Laws and a contrite Facebook are not going to keep your views, demographics, and interests private if you publish them online. And, if you take a poll/survey/test for the fun of it, you have to expect that the hosting site is doing something with your information.

We are each responsible for determining what we want the world to know about us and we should expect others to react positively, negatively, or commercially to what we share. Frankly, I thought this was understood by all of us Internet-savvy folks including Facebook users, bloggers, and Pornhub contributors.

The New York Times published a handy list of commonsense steps you can take give yourself marginal protection on Facebook, and most of their advice applies for other sites and apps.  Read it and take their suggestions.

But, really. The outrage over Facebook’s “data breech” sounds a little like the indignation and surprise of the bordello piano player. I don’t need Mark Zuckerberg to testify in front of Congress to know what’s being going on upstairs in the rooms.

 

Sex Sells and Facebook Knows It

Facebook Come-onI was somewhat startled when I went to Facebook to catch up with news and encountered a provocative photograph in the sidebar.

Facebook taunted me that the post they were displaying received 95% more “engagement” than the my own recent pitiful posts.  They suggested that the remedy to my isolation was to Boost Post — to pay them to display my posts in more places more frequently.

Puppy PictureWell, okay.  Maybe paying Facebook to display my posts as “sponsored” in the newsfeeds of people I don’t know would get some new people to read the Ozdachs page, like it, and buy our services.  Maybe.

But, what I really took away from Facebook’s recommendations was a reminder that sex sells.  The post that received 95% more attention was a crotch shot posted by a bar whose business page I had set up.  The client is now publishing his own posts, and I confess that I admire his talent for grabbing eye balls and getting people to LIKE the photo or click through for more information on the featured event.  He used a classic marketing technique: he used sex to get attention for his business.

I suggest to clients that we illustrate their pages/posts/hard-copy material with photographs of babies, puppies, and pretty young women.  Research shows that images of those subjects gets readers to pause and pay attention to the material.  It turns out that pictures of kittens and well-endowed young men are equally effective.

My own preference is to get users to stop and click by using pictures of adorable dogs.  They can be used in any forum, and puppies don’t risk offending the sensibilities of more traditional or conservative viewers.  Maybe the impulse to pet a dachshund isn’t as strong as the sex drive, but in my opinion a puppy is a more appropriate graphic for a business-to-business focus.

Of course, if you are attracting customers to your bar, you might focus more on sexy photographs.  Or, if you’re selling estate planning, you would be smart to load up your site with smiling babies of the inheriting generation.

In business, your task is to create an appealing image that will stand out from the crowd of messages hitting your prospective client.  Pretty women, babies, and puppies stop people from paging down or tossing your flier away without a second glace.  Give your message a chance to reach a customer.

Do what Facebook does. Let sex sell for your business!

Skype’s Sharing Violation

Skype's Request for Permissions
List of he Facebook Permissions Skype Wants

I bought a new HD webcam this month and downloaded Skype software so I can talk with someone who’s living in the Middle East with spotty phone service.  To recoup my investment I decided that I would expand my Skype universe and import my Facebook contacts into Skype.  That would let me know when more people are online, and maybe increase a chance for a chat or two.

But, really, Skype. You aren’t that good a friend for me to give you all the power you’re asking for!

I like my friends too much to let Skype do everything it wants.  Here’s what the Skype app wants:

  • Access my basic information which includes my list of friends.
    This makes sense if I want Skype to give me a list of my Facebook friends that use Skype.
  • Send me email.
    Okay, they already know my email address because I registered their software on my PC.
  • Access Posts in my News Feed.
    Why? So, no.
  • Post to Facebook as me
    I think this is just a scary way of saying that Skype can post to my wall as me when I am doing something with it.  But, no.  I want Skype to get my contact information. No more.
  • Access my data at any time.
    Huh?  Why?
  • Access Facebook Chat
    This stumps me.  Do they want to access chat as me?  Would this let me use Skype to video chat on Facebook?  Tell me more, Mr. Skype.
  • Access my profile information.
    No.  And, I am running out of polite ways to ask “whatever for?”
  • Access my photos
    Skype, keep your paws off my pictures.  I’ll give you a profile picture, but the rest are off limits, okay?
  • Access my videos
    No. See above on photos.
  • Access information people share with me
    No.  They are my friends.  Find your own.

I don’t mean to pick on Skype. It’s a good service.  But, really, the intrusiveness of corporate Social Media apps feels increasingly like the stalking of a creepy, socially inept voyeur who peers into your windows whenever they need a fix of humanity.

I don’t want Skype to tell people when I am using Skype to talk with other Facebook friends.  It’s just not anyone’s business.  And, I don’t want Skype to go digging around in my circle of friends of juicy marketing opportunities.

For me, it’s “No!” to Skype and to other overreaching corporations.  I am reading the Facebook permissions they want and saying know when what they’re asking for has nothing to do with what they need to deliver service to me.

When the Facebook Tail Wags Your Business Dog

Friday night I went to a concert by a well known San Francisco community group.  They’re talented. Although they are a non-profit volunteer group, the back orchestra tickets were $25, and the show was well attended.

Of course, the organizers want people to keep with the group’s future concerts and events, and they’re on top of social media.  So, they naturally pushed their Facebook page.  The master of ceremonies suggested that people take photographs during the evening, post them on Facebook, and compete for prizes for the best photographs.  The concert program even suggested when photographs should be taken.

Instructions from the Concert program to take a photo and post it on Facebook
Instructions in the Concert Program

So, after the house lights dimmed, audience members starting turning ON their cell phones and snapping photos.  Folks were maneuvering in their seats for the perfect angle, holding their phone up and out, and snapping away.  The man in the row in front of me really got into the spirit by starting the video camera and he recorded a section of the performance.

  • Cell phone displays are very, very bright.  In a dark hall, they are somewhere between distracting and blinding.
  • Some cell phone cameras flash in dim light.

The benign suggestion to share the performance online with your friends interfered with the experience for people who had already were fans. At the intermission and the end of the show, our group talked about the flashing and lights and not about the music.  Professional theaters ban pictures and videos both because their concern about intellectual property rights AND they don’t want amateur paparazzi disrupting their shows.

There’s a lot of good will for the organization sponsoring the concert I saw, and I doubt that their misplaced suggestion that people take pictures will impact their following.

But, what a good lesson for your business on what you should and should not to do!

  • Use social media to build buzz and get people in your doors.
  • Use social media to get your customers to tell their friends about you.

Do NOT let Social Media distract or de-focus your customers from doing what you want them do:

  • When I am already at a concert, don’t degrade my current concert experience in attempt to get future clients.
  • If I am already in your business, don’t suggest I check social media for deals or future events.

Just like in so many other areas of life, the bromide of “Moderation in Everything” will help your business use Facebook successfully.