Additional Thoughts: Facebook’s Challenging Year

Protecting customer data from external attacks:  Last September, Facebook announced that a weakness in the platform’s code allowed hackers to gain access to the personal information of 50 million Facebook users.  While this is a fractionally small number of Facebook users worldwide, public awareness of data protection is amplified in a climate where large-scale hacks and security breaches are now regular occurrences.  This particular breach also fell on the heels of the revelations surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier last year. Facebook later confirmed on its newsroom page that 20 million fewer accounts were actually compromised as a result of this code failing than was originally reported.  Regardless, the recollection of the breach still lingers.

Planner takeaway:  Data breaches, while now more common, erode customer trust.  Facebook has announced updates on the breach and shared the facts that resulted from their internal investigation of the incident.  The recent enactment of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the EU has focused an even brighter spotlight on the collection, usage and distribution of personal data.  Be transparent with your community users – early and often – on how the data they share with your organization is consumed and distributed.

Be prepared and responsive:    Social media conversations take place around the clock, and messages and videos are posted at the speed of light.  In some instances, this ability to immediately connect with an audienc can be very useful.  Regrettably, the same technology can be used to share disturbing content in real-time, and to bully or harass other platform users.   

In October, Facebook announced new tools and programs to help combat cyberbullying and to protect regular users and celebrities alike from hateful and abusive behavior.  One such tool empowers users to report instances of bullying or harassment when they themselves are not the victims.  The report remains anonymous, and Facebook determines if the post violates its “Community Standards.”  

Planner Takeaway:  
Revisit your social media code of conduct policy to determine if it needs an update.  While it’s impossible to anticipate each and every instance of bad behavior or attack, it is worthwhile to develop a social media response plan to combat malfeasance if it occurs on one of your organization’s channels.  The plan should be available to all of your social media team members and clearly define roles, responsibilities, and steps toward corrective action.

With the advent of a new year, we can predict that social media will continue to play a pivotal role in global culture and to have a dramatic impact on our lives.  We might even anticipate that governments will debate and implement measures to regulate the activities of today’s social media platforms.  Global citizens have grown weary (and leery) of wide-scale data breaches, and calls for new levels of transparency, stricter security protocols, and greater oversight will only become louder.  How the world’s largest social networks like Facebook choose to respond will impact their popularity, value and viability.  A lot can happen in the span of one year – especially in social media! 

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