Data Privacy Backlash: Is Facebook Advertising Truly Evolving?

According to a recent report, cybercriminals earning over $3 Billion annually exploiting social platforms. In the current scenario of stringent data privacy and heightened security measures, advertising platforms are forced to take  strong steps to ensure Transparency, Control and Accountability of data policies in their organizations. Encryption is one of the ways to do it and Facebook is no different when it comes to providing building and providing privacy-related services. The leading social media advertising platform keeps updating its Data Policy. In the wake of recent developments in the EU, we decided to speak to the CEOs and CMOs of leading MarTech companies who understand the Data Policy framework better than others. Our aim of these  discussions was to bring out the various dimensions of Facebook’s commitment to data governance and how it impacts brand reputation.

Changing Face of Ad Performance Metric Based on Audience Data and the User-Generated Content

Tyson Quick, CEO and Founder of Instapage spoke to us on the recent announcement of Facebook updating its relevance score with three new diagnostic metrics. Tyson said, “Data behind ad performance is essential in today’s competitive environment and the updates from Facebook provide advertisers more actionable information, and granular data, compared to just a relevance score in order for marketers to make better decisions around how they choose to spend their ad dollars, and how to best tailor specific campaigns.”

Instapage CEO added, “These changes further validate that the post-click experience plays a critical role in the success of ad campaigns, and allows advertisers to clearly see what specific shifts are vital in order to improve performance.”

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Darin Archer, CMO of Elastic Path, said, “While Facebook is undergoing a shift to better focus on protecting users’ privacy, unfortunately, it is still one of the most effective advertising platforms, given the ability to target advertisements that are based on user interests and geographies.  While there can be negatives associated with possible data loss or misuse, there are also many positives, including more personalized and relevant content and advertisements for users. It will be finding the right balance between user trust and personalized user experiences that will be the challenge for Facebook moving forward.”

What is so different about Facebook’s commitment to data privacy?

Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and co-founder of, explained, “Facebook’s new privacy announcement is interesting both in what it says and in what it doesn’t say. Zuckerberg speaks very generally in his announcement without getting much into specifics beyond Facebook planning to offer more messaging options that are encrypted and last only for a short time– something it already offers in Whatsapp (encryption) and Instagram (expiring messages). What specifically Facebook plans to change is left to guesswork. Zuckerberg really just acknowledges the obvious: that users don’t trust Facebook and want more privacy.”

Impact on Current Facebook Marketing and Advertising Efforts

We wanted to know about the key areas of disruptions for Marketing teams once Facebook strictly implements data privacy measures.

Eli answered, “How or if Facebook’s privacy push will impact marketing and advertising is entirely unclear. In his announcement, Zuckerberg talks mostly about messaging, without bringing up areas like News Feed where most of Facebook’s ads are shown. Facebook understands that it must walk a fine line between keeping its users feeling like their privacy is respected while collecting enough information to keep the platform useful to advertisers looking to target specific demographics.”

Sherban Naum, Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Technology, Bromium, said, “This latest lapse at Facebook has left user passwords accessible to 20,000 employees on an internal server, once again highlighting the disconnect between what large enterprises should be doing with their security and what is actually happening. Enterprises like Facebook hold a ton of data for hundreds of millions of users. Thankfully this wasn’t a breach, but once again raises concerns about how user data is being secured. This is simple server administration. They left an internal facing server with password data on it without protection and available to Facebook employees, putting them at risk of a major insider threat, with password data a lucrative source for cybercriminals willing to pay for that information. Events like this are contradictory to the basics of IT security best practices, which Facebook, with its plentiful resources and technical expertise, should be more than capable of achieving.”

Regarding permeance challenges, we asked how Marketers could be at the receiving end in creating more relevant interactions based on historical data.

What kind of timeline could it target — in days, months, years for Contextual targeting?

Eli said, “Both Facebook and users need to decide what an acceptable level of permeance is, and realistically, this is an evolving conversation. If you were to ask users this question five years ago, you would get a different answer than you would get now, and in another five years, the answer will probably change yet again. It’s easy to forget that only 13 years ago when Facebook released its News Feed feature, it ran into massive protests with its users calling the feature “creepy” and saying it violates their privacy. Users’ opinions on privacy will continue to evolve and Facebook and marketers will need to adapt along with them.”

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Social media platforms have become near ubiquitous, and most corporate employees access social media sites at work, which exposes significant risk of attack to businesses, local governments as well as individuals,” commented Gregory Webb, CEO of Bromium.

Gregory added, “Hackers are using social media as a Trojan horse, targeting employees to gain a convenient backdoor to the enterprise’s high value assets. Understanding this is the first step to protecting against it, but businesses must resist knee jerk reactions to ban social media use – which often has a legitimate business function – altogether.

“Instead, organizations can reduce the impact of social media-enabled attacks by adopting layered defenses that utilize application isolation and containment,” concludes Webb. “This way, social media pages with embedded but often undetected malicious exploits are isolated within separate micro-virtual machines, rendering malware infections harmless. Users can click links and access mis-trusted social-media sites without risk of infection.”

Recommendations to Social Media Marketing and Advertising teams

How to ensure Facebook remains relevant to data security landscape?

“Marketing leaders have grown used to being able to target specific demographics through Facebook, and users showing up to the site benefits them as well. To remain relevant to the data security landscape, marketing leaders should demand information back from Facebook about how their ads and the ads of their competitors are perceived by users. Facebook needs to facilitate a conversation between advertisers and users that gives users a way to express what sort of targeting they find creepy, and to punish the worst offenders. Both Facebook and marketers will suffer some short term harm, but this would be much more sustainable than both speaking platitudes about privacy and waiting for the next massive scandal.”

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To participate in our Facebook Advertising and Data Privacy Editorial programs, drop us a line at

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