Facebook’s latest move just the tip of the privacy issues

facebook privacy

By Mark Schaefer

I’m not the kind of guy who would typically say, “I told you so.”

But what the heck. I told you so.

This week Facebook took another step to harvest profits from the lives of its billion users by allowing advertisers to target ads based on user’s private web-browsing habits.

Advertisers applauded the move. But privacy advocates expressed concern, and several called for a Federal Trade Commission examination of the change. They said that although Facebook offers an opt-out it is difficult and ineffective.

In any event, this is a bold move by Facebook to turn your private web browsing history into advertising gold. And this is just the beginning.

On the brink of Facebook’s 2013 IPO, I wrote a post titled “Why Facebook will Become the Most Dangerous Company on Earth.

The premise of the article was that becoming a public company creates an inexorable and relentless pressure to meet quarterly sales goals. I wrote: Maybe it will will take a few months, maybe it will take a year or more, but inevitably the marching orders of Facebook executives will be determined by this constant drumbeat of “more, higher, faster.”

Of course the source of Facebook’s revenues is you and me.

The privacy issues

Virtually the entire economic model of Facebook is based on a single tactic — collect as much personal information about us as possible as a way to sell highly-targeted ads. So for Facebook to succeed as a public company, it simply must collect increasing amounts of information about us and release it to advertisers.

That’s what we began to see with the announcement this week and without question, this is only the beginning.

At some point, Facebook and Facebook privacy will be faced with a stark reality — the well of available personal information will be tapped dry. The opportunity to create advertising impressions will slow.  Mark Zuckerberg will face unimaginable pressure from Wall Street and his shareholders. His company will have to find radical new ways to turn their vast resource — our personal information — into new sources of profits.

And that’s when Facebook becomes the most dangerous company on earth. Will anybody care, or will they be heads-down in Farmsville?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration Flickr CC and Mark Byzewski

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