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GDPR and Facebook: Implications for us?

James Crowder | 26 March 2018

Imagine this. You are sat at home on your personal Facebook account, and have the news on in the background. Suddenly, a breaking news story comes through claiming Facebook used 50,000 people’s account details to influence the US election. You wonder how this is allowed and whether at any point your details have been used without your consent.

But how does it affect you as a marketing director sitting here in the UK?

I am sure this is the type of conduct that businesses will not be allowed to perform as GDPR is meant to stop these problems from occurring.

What is the problem for Facebook?

A facebook app was developed by Dr. Aleksandr Kogan called ‘thisisyourdigitallife’, which obtained user data. It acquired this information by scraping data from the profiles of people who took the quiz as well as that of their friends. Amazingly, although only about 270, 000 people took the survey, the New York Times reports, yet that Dr. Kogan was able to obtain data on 50 million users.

This data was then handed over to another firm—Cambridge Analytica—for a “fee” and this firm uses this to do micro-targeting, and they were able to influence the US election.

GDPR Transgression

The GDPR applies the principle of “purpose limitation”, under which personal data must only be “collected for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes" and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes. It now awaits to be seen if Facebook have broken any laws, but if this were to happen when GDPR comes into effect in May, they would be severely punished.

How Facebook have dealt with the issue and implications for us

In order for consumers to not feel like their data has been set out like a book stall at a jumble sale, where anyone can walk in off the street and help themselves, Facebook have stated they will be making major privacy changes to their platform.

Speaking at the start of the year, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said:

“The company will be rolling out a new privacy centre globally that will put the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data.”

This is probably what we all need to be doing to make sure that we as B2B marketeers in the UK are fully compliant. Making sure that personal data is able to be controlled by the individual. Are you up to speed with your solution?

The backlash from Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data to influence voters in 2016 only goes to show the importance of GDPR, and actually complying with it.

If you never appreciated it before, this scandal should drive home that every piece of data that you obtain should be handled legally as stated in the new regulations.

GDPR is coming