Facebook talks about Privacy… differently this time!

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Where do I start?! The first thing that amazes me about Facebook’s new privacy policy is the amount of attention it is getting. In the midst of crises across several MEA countries, New Zealand quake, rising crude prices, annual budget in India, the cricket World Cup, a blog entry that speaks about a ‘WIP’ policy has managed to gain importance. Sigh…us social buffoons!

Okay, enough mocking and ridiculing of our generation. The truth is that Facebook has been a target of critics’ ire in the past due to its privacy policy, which, by a candid admission has been touted ‘“longer than the U.S. constitution – without the amendments”’. Though Facebook is not the first or the only company to have a not-humanly-readable privacy policy, its sheer reach and deep-rooted presence in our lives solicits a policy that majority of users understand. For me personally, Facebook has always done things the “cool” way, why apply different standards to your privacy policy!

Enough has been written and said about what really is different about the “new” policy and why did Facebook choose to rework it. So, I am not really interested in paying another tribute to the new policy in the form of this blog post. But there are a few things that are related to this development that I’m sure my Marketer friends want to read about, and discuss – What will be the impact of the new policy, if any. Well, to answer this, it must first be re-stated here that Facebook has not really changed any privacy settings anywhere; it has just re-articulated it in a more readable and easily understandable one that a normal user can make some sense of.

So, how does it affect us Marketers? Here’s how : Many individuals have been wondering ever since : ‘What exactly does Facebook do with all the personal info I provide them’, ‘Does Facebook sell my personal info to companies’. Some have even gone to the extent of completely banishing Facebook from their lives – you can blame a few episodes of Facebook’s blunders for this too. For most however, they have simply chosen to restrict their usage and the amount of info they share, instead of going ahead and doing some in-depth research to find the answers. Now, with it all out there readable by all, Facebook has become much more trustworthy :)

I can foresee a lot of users now getting more comfortable sharing their info on Facebook and much increased activity on the social networking website. This increase in activity and information sharing shall be slow and perhaps, won’t even be noticeable. But logic says it’ll definitely happen. Though I do not like to speculate and stretch my imagination too much, I shall take this privilege this time. With more user information available, Facebook will be able to provide better advertising opportunities to companies and increase the effectiveness\RoIs of Campaign; more targeting options shall be made available. One wonders if it was this idea that was the primary reason for this revision of privacy policy! Anyway, increased activity and comfort level of users will also translate into companies’ pages seeing more activity. It’ll now be up to each Marketer to make the most of the heightened activity.

I have also observed some kind of reluctance to using Facebook Apps because of the privacy related concerns (personally, I too have been wary of using most apps). I believe the new policy will help people overcome most fears, and even more people will get hooked to apps; a good reason for companies to consider investing in building useful/ interesting Apps to engage their target audience.

Most of this will evolve slowly and much remains unchanged for normal users. The new privacy policy will only help Facebook become more popular and hence, this social network will continue to command increasing importance from Marketers. In the immediate aftermath, you might see 1-2 friends changing their privacy settings after reading an article and proactively looking up the new policy, but my experience tells me that most shall continue to be lazy, and won’t bother to read through the much shorter and visually appealing policy; business as usual will continue. And through all of this, we Marketers will continue to sift through various articles in search of a magic trick for our Facebook campaigns. Take my word – there is none, I’ve fallen for this in the past, now you don’t.

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