The Big, Gray, Squishy, And Constantly Moving Line Of Social Data Privacy

Last week at Facebook's developer conference, the massive social network announced a few big changes. Loosely veiled in the enhanced features is a startling amount of new data, giving Facebook even more capabilities to track and learn from consumers sharing behavior, networks, purchases, songs they listen to, and so on.

While there were no direct announcements about what this means for marketers, it's still brought a fair amount of discussion around social marketing, customer data, and the future of consumer privacy online. Last week I tweeted a link to this summary (and pointed out the URL's passive aggressive analysis). But since then, the concerns around Facebook's use of data have only increased. So what does this mean to Customer Intelligence professionals?

The way I talk about customer privacy and social data - the information you can collect and manage from social media channels - is that it's a big, gray, squishy, and constantly moving line. It's not black and white. It's not a thin line. And the overall sentiment about how privacy online works seems to shift constantly. The best thing Customer Intelligence teams can do today is to make sure they're on the right side of that line.

There are few standards out today defining the acceptable methods for capturing, managing, analyzing, and applying customer data from social channels. But many vendors offer tools and services that help you achieve just that. And with mainstream media closely searching for examples of consumer privacy concerns, how should you address consumers' social data?

Well, I'm in the middle of a report aiming to answer just that. We see a bumpy road ahead but a bright future for Customer Intelligence teams - especially those that have experience sharing marketing and business value for customers' data. But while I'm researching, I wanted to get the discussion going about how you capture and use this data today.

If you have a chance, head over to the Customer Intelligence Community and help influence our research. I'd love to hear your thoughts and get a good discussion going about privacy.


Zach, I find this topic very

Zach, I find this topic very interesting because I am one person who is definitely concerned about the "shifting, fluid" lines/boundaries of Social Data privacy. I am concerned because while Facebook used to utilize alot of "screens" and filters that were user selected privacy features that helped to conceal information he/she did not wish to have publicized to those they did not in the beginning of its social media life; I have seen a consistent slow shift, as you mention, of the company towards a more public and less secure internet where people and businesses are able to access information from social media sites in order to promote their capital gains and ensure continued success. While as a private citizen I am concerned, I do however from a businessman's and musician's standpoint I relish in the idea and ability for me to know exactly what my customers and audiences wish out of the products that I create. I do have several questions:
1. How do you think the "Customer Intelligence Teams" could make their intelligence probes from both Personal and Professional Social Media sites (such as, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc.) more subtle?
2. Do you think the U.S. government, even while upholding the Freedom of Information Act, will ever pass regulations that directly deal with the exposure and concealment of personal information on the Internet?
3. Going along with Question Number 2...Do you believe that Social Media site will begin to increasingly expose people's information in order to continue business success?

- Mike

Great questions

I don't want to hog my own comments section so I'll leave much of this open to hear others' opinions, but I do want to respond to question #1 with another question:

With social data privacy concerns growing, should marketers be more subtle in their data collection or more blatant? The more open they are the better - but this will also limit the responses they get. Keeps them out of trouble, but hinders their goals... it's a difficult decision, but that's all part of that big squishy line.

Thank you

Hello, I think this report shall be interesting. I just got a glimpse of the new changes coming to Facebook in the next week. I'm not sure what to say about all of the changes, it's hard to get used to changes but it might be good. As a consumer I really do not like all of the privacy violations and amount of data being displayed from myself and others. But as a business person it is very good. Thank you for the report and look forward to reading it.

I'm a lover and a hater of

I'm a lover and a hater of social media for a variety of reasons.
I love how "real friends" can keep in touch with one another and share,
and the convenience of doing so mobily.
As a marketer, I love that you can learn more about your customers and interact with them to gain better insight.
What I hate about it is that it's the tail wagging the dog on both personal and business accounts.
As a personal user, I never allow apps on my facebook page b/c I don't like allowing so much access to my information, plain and simple.
Yes. It might eventually lead to a better, more targeted offer from an advertiser, but that's not why I'm on fb in the first place.
I also really don't twitter. (yes. it's true. i'm not totally plugged in. to me, it's just another thing.)
Which leads me to the marketing side of things. Social has become just another thing marketers HAVE to do to keep up. Yes. It's smart. Yes, it's targeted. But it's a giant pain in the .... especially for smaller business.
It takes an incredible amount of time (and yes, there are services/software out there that make it easier), but with all the recent changes, if you're not continually engaged, you're apparently out of the "game."
To me, what's sad is that an entire nation has their faces constantly on their smart phones / monitors.
Pandora's box.