How Will Facebook’s New Privacy Settings Affect Marketers?

At the end of last week Facebook rolled out Privacy Checkup, which, with the help of Zuckersaurus, helps users keep track of who is seeing what on the platform. Good news? Perhaps not, for marketers.

To enable the privacy checkup, the blue dinosaur will intermittently pop up, reminding users to make sure their posts are going out to their intended audience, be it all their friends, selected groups of friends, or everyone. Zuckersaurus will do the same for apps, showing users a dashboard of the apps they’ve logged into with Facebook, and who can see related activity.

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While the move seems like a step in the right direction for Facebook pessimists who are concerned that private lives have become all too public, it may not be so positive for marketers who use the information for ad targeting. Andrew Edwards, managing partner at Efectyv Digital, believes it will affect them financially.

“Behind the curtain somewhere, it sounds like [Facebook wants] to find a way to monetize their data collection in a more efficient manner,” Edwards says. “In other words, it’ll be harder for marketers to get anything off Facebook without paying Facebook.”

According to San Francisco research firm NextAdvisor, 61 percent of Facebook users don’t even know which third-party apps have access to their profiles. Their October research also found that one-third of the site’s users check their privacy settings once a year, if ever, while half have never used the “view as” feature to see which personal information is published publicly on their timelines.

Jim Sterne, a digital marketing consultant and author, thinks that most people’s attitude is that Facebook privacy settings are important, just not important enough to deal with right now.

“It’s like checking the air in my tires,” he says. “Of course I do that! Someday.”

Sterne thinks it would be smart for Facebook to monetize whatever they can, but he points out that the site may experience backlash if, after they’ve just privatized their profiles, people notice more targeted ads.

“If they’re improving privacy just to make it more expensive for advertisers to reach [people] then they fail at the privacy issue,” he says. “Customer satisfaction is not going to be improved that way.”

Edwards says that the new privacy settings may make Facebook users feel even safer than some already do and could encourage them to feel more comfortable to share additional information with the social network. In turn, this will create greater amounts of data that could potentially be monetized further.

Earlier this year, Facebook revealed its plan to sell users’ browsing histories to advertisers. Edwards points out that the site never promised not to sell data on the back of this. “Facebook is still collecting everything,” Edwards says. “That’s where the real data mining happens, not from a third party gleaning what they can about who got the most likes.”

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