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Cambridge Analytica scandal: it’s the user stupid !

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The Cambridge Analytica scandal is one of a one-of-a-kind size. It attracted the attention of many and resembles a wake-up call. Yet also triggers some very hypocritical reactions from people who “seem” to discover that Facebook collects an awful lot of data and makes it available to, basically anyone who asks for it.

Zuckerberg, king of the hypocrites

Everyone seems to discover that the most personal data is being collected by Facebook, shared to and analysed by all kinds of firms whose goals are sometimes less than acceptable. And it starts with Mark Zuckerberg himself who appeared to be surprised on Wednesday although he had excellent knowledge of Cambridge Analytica’s practices since 2015 (more information here on the FAZ website, in German). Does Zuckerberg actually care about users’ data ? Well, now that his shares have lost some 20% in a few days, he may pay attention (fortunately for him he had just sold more than 1m shares before the Cambridge Analytica’s scandal).

Is the end of Facebook?

I wish it were. But it won’t.
I wish it were because social networks have become parasites of our real lives (read more about this here and there). Rather than being enablers, social networks are largely contributing to decimating relationships between humans (emails have also negative effects but eventually contribute positively to the enrichment of human relationships).
Yet Facebook won’t disappear that quickly. On the one hand because humans are weak and will continue using it because it’s a way to please their ego (and because of FoMO, Fear of Missing Out). On the other hand because there is so much at stake that Zuckerberg will do every thing he can to save Facebook and avoid users from discovering the awful truth. And he’s right. Because the users won’t understand anyway.

It’s the user, stupid!

The user is the problem. Normal people (i.e. 99% of the population) don’t care about their data (although the Mozilla survey, which was probably in a way biased had shown trends of people becoming more privacy conscious). Facebook uses this weakness.
Humans like to be entertained. That’s how they end up using third-party apps (in the firm of games, psychometric surveys, …) that will suck the data from their facebook profile. Nothing wrong with that : they give their consent ! (well actually they didn’t even bother reading the terms and conditions, that’s why).

What’s the solution?

Sorry to disappoint you but there is no short-term solution. At best it will take a decade to change. And the only way it can change for good is that we educate people. If data is the new oil, we must build a generation of data privacy-conscious users.
I hope I’ll live long enough to see the change happen.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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