Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent 2 long days in front of Congress answering questions from a joint hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary and Commerce Committees. This stemmed from the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, illegally used data they acquired from the social platform. A lot of the questions asked during the hearing centered on privacy, data collection, and transparency.
Mark Zuckerberg sounded remorseful about what happened. Prior to the hearing, Mr. Zuckerberg made a series of announcements designed to demonstrate that he took the data leak very seriously and was working to prevent it from happening again. Throughout the hearing he repeatedly referred to these updates, which included:
- Making privacy shortcuts easier to find
- Being more transparent about political ads and political based pages
- Restricting the data shared with developers when you log in using your Facebook account
- Labeling political ads and making them available for public inspection
- Launching a bounty program to reward people who find examples of data misuse
As of now, Facebook is not making any drastic changes that will impact our industry or current Facebook campaigns. In fact, it seems Mr. Zuckerberg walked away from the hearing fairly unscathed. While there has been a lot of backlash from the general public, there’s no need for advertisers to panic. Despite memes like #DeleteFacebook, there has not been a mass exodus from the platform. We’ve found that most patients are on Facebook to participate in community groups that offer support and education, and they are not running away because this type of support is heavily integrated into their lives.
Similar changes have happened before and we’ve continuously evolved our strategies to make sure we’re serving our patient populations the best we can. Prior to this scandal, there was already a push toward more transparency through the elimination of things like Facebook dark pages. We always emphasize the importance of authenticity and transparency, so this increased scrutiny does not bring any need for change in approach. Moving forward, it will be imperative that we continue to create meaningful and engaging content that emphasizes participation and conversations, as well as trust.
At the end of the day, this situation highlights something important – Facebook is not a channel we own. It’s a leased property, which is why the fundamentals are critical. Once your strategy is dependent upon the channel, you’ve lost control of the results.
We will continue to monitor this issue and keep you updated as new develops arise. If you have any questions please reach out to Scott.Wanderman@syneoshealth.com, and he’ll be happy to discuss this situation with you in more detail.
The Future of Facebook
If you’d like to hear Zuckerberg’s perspective on the current and future state of Facebook, check out this insightful podcast from Vox that came out a few days before the hearing.