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The results are out for Facebook

The purpose: “the audit doesn’t situate Facebook’s decisions in the context of it competitors, instead evaluating the company’s behavior on its own. The approach is useful, because social media companies often get a pass for behavior that’s standard in the industry, an approach that lowers standards across the board rather than looking at real world impacts.”

The verdict: “This report outlines a number of positive and consequential steps that the company has taken, but at this point in history, the Auditors are concerned that those gains could be obscured by the vexing and heartbreaking decisions Facebook has made that represent significant setbacks for civil rights,”

SoMeToday highlighted these key criticisms raised in the report against Facebook.

  • Allowing harm and divisive rhetoric.
  • Failure to address voter suppression tactics.
  • Lack of representation in leadership.
  • The need to create a more diverse and more inclusive culture. 

Another article in the CampaignUK quoted Sandberg saying “There are no quick fixes to these issues – nor should there be… What has become increasingly clear is that we have a long way to go. As hard as it has been to have our shortcomings exposed by experts, it has undoubtedly been a really important process for our company. We would urge companies in our industry and beyond to do the same.”

and “While we won’t make every change they call for, we will put more of their proposals into practice.” 

One thing’s clear. As a business, Facebook lacks accountability and unless they start taking their role in both safeguarding free speech and curbing the spread of false information and extremism seriously, as users and advertisers, we’re left with audits like these to remind us of our role in this mess.

Here’s the full 89-page report.

The long list of grievances against Facebook

Over 900 advertisers have paused buying ads from Facebook at least until the end of July. While this boycott is related to Facebook’s failure at curbing hate speech, advertisers have many other grievances with the platform.

Digiday wrote that; 

“Funding hate speech is on a list of bugbears advertisers have with Facebook, which also includes their inability to properly validate campaign data as well as concerns over the efficacy of video ads in its news feed.”

For advertisers banding together to make Facebook accountable would have been illegal, but #StopHateForProfit gave them the platform they needed to poke Facebook.

Perhaps it’s the pressure from the boycott but Facebook committed to a brand safety audit last week.

In a separate article Digiday reported that the purpose of this audit is to;

“assess its ability to apply brand safety controls within other partner publishers’ content that includes advertising slots and appears in-stream, in Instant Articles or on the Facebook Audience Network. Facebook said it also expects the audit to cover its partner monetization policies and content monetization policies — the rules publishers and creators must abide if they want to make money from their Facebook content through ad revenue — and how it enforces them.”

This isn’t the only MRC audit facebook is committed to and as WSJ reported they’ve been running into trouble with how the measure video ad metrics.

What do consumers think of this boycott? An impromptu survey from MarTech discovered that the majority of consumers in the US were either unaware or undecided. The highest awareness and approval was among Gen Z.

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First GDPR and now CCPA. Privacy regulations catch up

There are some similarities between GDPR and CCPA, the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Martech has a quick guide if you want to bring yourself up to speed or you can dive into this exhaustive guide from FFP comparing the finer points of GDPR and CCPA.

The big difference is that CCPA explicitly applies to for-profit companies that: 

  • Have gross annual revenues in excess of $25 million;
  • Possess the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices; or
  • Earn more than half of their annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.

Non-compliance fines for CCPA range between $2,500 – $7,500 per violation but they can quickly add up as explained in the article by Consent Guide.

Data privacy is changing the digital landscape more than any other technology.

Policymakers are still having a slow start but they’re starting to step up to safeguard users and consumers.

Last month Politico reported that the US Department Of Justice is planning to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google.

Just last week, Campaign covered a report by a UK competition watchdog asking the government “to introduce new regulations to tackle Google and Facebook’s power in digital advertising”.

Their suggestions range from making Facebook give users an option to opt-out from personalised advertising and for Google to share its data with rival search engines.

Marketers have a much bigger responsibility.

Besides dealing with new regulations and the changing landscape of advertising, I mean.

We must own our consumer privacy and champion the voice of our customer.

The budget for privacy may come from some other department, such as IT or Legal, as Ethyca discovered.

And we, the marketers, must be prepared to reach across the organisation and collaborate with all the departments that come in contact with customer and user data and make sure that our organisation is above reproach.

This isn’t just a nice thing to do, this is the new normal.

Facebook hates losing revenue. Who knew?!

Facebook’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Just not the kind it wants.

Since last year, Facebook’s been at the centre of one controversy after another.

First, it was the shaky IPO. Then the Cambridge Analytica data leaks.

Conducted secret social experiments (and got caught), looked the other way when the platform was used for inciting genocide and finally got a massive fine for violating user privacy.

Despite the controversies, Facebook’s ad revenue keeps on growing.

As far as advertising goes, it seems Facebook can do no harm. Even when it falsely reports on video metrics!

But there’s something different about their most recent run-in with civil rights groups. 

Since last Friday, 17 brands have joined the Facebook boycott, including Unilever (which also pulled out of Twitter).

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will [. . .] revisit our current position if necessary,” said Luis Di Como, Unilever’s executive vice president of global media.

Facebook’s stock fell by 8% last week resulting in a reversal on its policies on content moderation.

Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will be following in Twitter’s footsteps only a week after pleading, “Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online”.

May be brands are finally ready to look beyond cheap clicks.

Or as BBC ponders, maybe in a pandemic infused downturn, this is just the kind of PR that was needed. 

Rebellion in the App Store

Apple has decided to stir up more trouble.

As if two on-going anti-trust proceedings (in the US & EU) weren’t enough.

The tech giant, worth $1,3 trillion, is demanding that app developers selling monthly subscriptions pay a percentage of their revenue to Apple.

That may not be a serious problem for the big players, but for smaller app developers, already spending almost 50% of their budgets on marketing, that’s squeezing their already tight revenue.

In a recent skirmish, Apple blocked Basecamp.

Apple stopped them from pushing updates of their e-mail app ‘Hey!’ through the App Store unless they coughed up 15-30% of their revenue.

Basecamp isn’t alone in crying bloody murder here. Spotify already made an anti-trust filing against Apple last year that led to probing from the European Commission.

Apple is adamant that it’s only trying to create a level playing field and saying app developers should’ve known about these policies all along.

App developers are, however, calling bullshit.

Obviously, this sounds like the kind of courtroom drama tech giants start when they get bored.

For us consumers, though, the outcome in Apple’s favour will mean more expensive in-app purchases.