Facebook is grappling with one of the biggest tumbles in user popularity since it began more than 14 years ago.
The ongoing Cambridge Analytica saga has hit Facebook hard, with a recent study led by US think tank the Ponemon Institute finding user trust had depleted significantly since early 2017.
The study found of the 3,000 participating in the study, just 27 per cent of them agreed with the question: “Facebook is committed to protecting the privacy of my personal information.”
When the same question was asked a year ago, 79 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement.
As Zuckerberg continues to front the US Senate and more details of the Cambridge Analytica scandal emerge, the biggest question now is ‘How can Facebook move forward?’.
Speaking to B&T, MediaCom CEO Willie Pang says it’s time for Facebook to become transparent with its use of data.
“Facebook needs to give a statement on how they’re using the data, and explain ‘Here’s all the value you’ve been getting from it’,” says Pang.
For Pang, it’s about making clear to users the benefits they have received from sharing their data with Facebook.
“In the last 10 years you have been collecting my data, and it’s manifested in these beneficial things such as personalisation of content and the organisation of my site experience.”
Pang calls this concept of having a transactional relationship with Facebook a “value exchange”.
“If you’re a big fan of say Reschs and the company recognises your loyalty and gives you a free case on your birthday, that’s an exchange.”
“If you’re researching accommodation for an upcoming trip to Italy and I can save you time by serving you ads for hotels that match your browsing history, that’s an exchange.”
“Time is money, if Facebook had helped you save 10, 20 to 30 minutes, would you begrudge them? Would you say ‘Oh actually I’d rather have spent the extra time?’ Probably not.”
While Pang champions the importance of this value exchange, he is also quick to admit Facebook is very much still in its infancy and should be treated as such.
“Facebook is still a toddler from a business life stage perspective, it doesn’t quite yet understand the impact at a social construct level it can have.”
“Platforms like Facebook say they just have the platform and what goes on them is beyond their control.”
“What I’ve learned from Zuckerberg responding during the hearing is he’s very quickly coming to realise that his role and his organisation’s role is much bigger.”
“You cant say, ‘I’ve become part of the social fabric of the world but I’m totally divorced from the moral and ethical issues that come with it’, he’s very quickly realising he can change the world.”
“If he can say ‘The purpose of data is to give you a better experience and over the last 10 years here’s how we’ve been doing it’, that’s their best step forward.”
For Pang, the biggest hurdle Facebook has to overcome is attempting to explain value exchange to an everyday user.
“If you are a regular punter in middle Australia and I’m trying to make you understand value exchange – who’s role is it to take on educating people?
“I don’t know, I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that.”