April 27, 2018 By FTI Consulting
Now we’ve had some time to sit back and reflect on the recent Cambridge Analytica crisis, the famous words of Ron Burgundy come to mind, “Well that escalated quickly!” The consumer backlash against the data sharing practices on Facebook mixed with the upcoming GDPR coming into force, has caused platforms to take a number of actions to limit access to user data. Whilst on the surface limiting access to our data appears to be a good thing, we question the idea that greater privacy equates to better social media. Both Facebook and WhatsApp this week announced new limitations to how the platform will function, most notably the minimum age limit for WhatsApp has risen to 16. Whilst we certainly applaud efforts to protect users on the platform, it is notable that many parents have highlighted the positive impact that WhatsApp has had on their children. For Facebook, GDPR may mean that advertisements on the platform become less targeted which has many repercussions, not least of them that US Senator Bill Nelson now won’t be able to get that chocolate he loves so much. Clearly the idea of malicious foreign actors using our data to influence political campaigns is disturbing, but greater restrictions in data privacy may in fact limit the efficacy of what social media is designed to be, which is public, shareable and personalised. Therefore we must question carefully the nuances of what data should be considered as private, what obligation platforms have in protecting data and to what extent data can be used to influence business and politics.
This week we got a glimpse into the weird and wonderful world of Facebook community moderation – and baby photos, overhead shots of your lunch and “as many cats as you want” are still fine to share.
The company has released a public version of its guidelines for content moderation – which have long been kept secret – in the name of increased transparency and asking for community feedback. Just a quick look at the guidelines reveals how complicated an issue moderation of online content is. Many of the rules have a bizarrely specific exception tacked on, for example a close-up image of a buttocks is not permitted, unless of course it is photoshopped on to a public figure. Therefore what content is acceptable or not is highly subjective and gives great power to social media platforms to influence what we do and don’t interact with. Clearly, however, Facebook is taking the right step in inviting users into this process.
Another day, another data breach. TSB’s reputation as a challenger brand and a friendly local bank may have taken a knock this week when an IT meltdown led to customer outrage. The company had planned to temporarily close down its online banking while it was updated.
Yet when users logged on, some were presented with the details of other users accounts and many others have been unable to log on. Thousands of customers took to Twitter to complain about being unable to access their money. To some extent the response is standard for a major systems failure, however TSB may come under greater scrutiny as it has marketed itself as “not like other banks” and its chief executive Paul Pester has accused its rivals of being complacent. As always there are some lessons to be learnt from the crisis, chief among these is the use of leadership communications for issues management. Having leadership presence on social media offers a more personal medium to inform consumers about an issue, however it also means that these channels need to be managed effectively in a crisis situation. In Paul Pester’s case his Twitter account was silent on the issue for 48 hours. Pester’s argument is that he was busy helping to sort out the issue, but it’s surely no surprise that customers felt a little in the dark?