Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook’s poor privacy track record: “Frankly, we don't currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services.”
He outlined a new approach for the company, in which Facebook built services that allow people to communicate privately. Apart from acknowledging the extreme examples of terrorism and exploitation, he doesn’t say how he will address the real concern.
Nor is he changing Facebook’s basic model of hoovering up data and using it for marketing.
The Facebook CEO is responding to the growing concerns about how the digital world impacts our privacy. Here’s how they should be addressed.
For most people, the answer is “no.” According to Deloitte, 91% of us don’t read the terms of service. Most are not equipped with the knowledge base or willing to spend the time needed to navigate through privacy policies. In 2008, one study estimated it would take a typical internet user 244 hours a year to do so!
When we use a “free” service, the real “cost” involves giving a company access to our data. But we don’t know what we are giving up; we are not in a position to assess whether it’s a good deal. Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Without knowing the terms of a deal, how can one ensure fairness?
As my colleague Pooja Midha says, with transparent value exchange, everybody can win.
Free services like Facebook and Google don’t offer content, they offer functionality. And they offer it in exchange for consumers’ time and attention paid to advertising. But the unique, bidirectional nature of internet-based services allows for a second source of value to flow to a service provider: data.
And data is where the real money is.
A recent MarTech survey asked consumers whether they would be willing to share their data for a price and what price. A majority (57%) said it was worth a minimum of $10. This stands in stark contrast to the true value of their data.
Facebook’s average annual revenue per user in the U.S. and Canada was reported to be near $112 in 2018, per Daze.
Consumers have to choose whether they are willing to abide by the myriad privacy policies of various companies they engage with over the internet. It puts the burden on the party with the least information, and in the worst position to understand what they are getting into.
I have a better idea: My data, my rules.
This would make the digital world easier to navigate and the costs more transparent.
In a my data-my rules world, the consumer is empowered and the value exchange is clear, with information and understanding similar on both sides. In that world, marketers can be confident the data they use is permissioned. This reduces their exposure to brand damaging charges of “surveillance capitalism.”
Like marketers, in a my data-my rules world, technology companies can engage with consumers more safely, knowing collected data is permissioned, reducing the risk of ugly articles in The New York Times and political fallout.
There are two ways this change can happen. The first is government regulation.
With one large player having established this as standard operating procedure, it would be hard for other companies not to follow. What consumer wants to use a service that refuses, as a matter of policy, to follow their preferences?
It is time for a change. Let’s stop hiding behind opacity and complexity. Let’s all live by a simple principle on the internet: my data, my rules.