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01 May 2018

Facebook User Data Breach Leads to Public Overreaction

CHICAGO, IL – Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress concerning an incident involving Cambridge Analytica and the breach of over 87 million Facebook users’ data. This event has brought to light a major debate about user privacy and ad targeting.

The breach has led many users to question Facebook’s privacy settings and data collection procedures. In response to the spread of divisive disinformation, Facebook has announced several changes to its advertising platform and the types of content it will show users. These changes will ultimately lead to less relevant advertisements, which will drive poorer conversion rates for businesses.

Third party data helps Facebook further refine its user base into meaningful segments for advertisers. In order to leverage the deep pool of data Facebook collects on users, the company mixes information that it obtains from users themselves (pages a user liked, for instance) with information from advertisers (membership status in a loyalty program, for example) and with data obtained from third party providers.

In response to the Cambridge Analytica breach, Facebook will be shutting down Partner Categories – a targeting option within the Facebook ad platform that can help define the audience for an advertiser. Partner Categories enables third-party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. These data providers have some of the deepest insights into consumer behavior across the world – information on what people buy, where they shop, what kind of cars they drive, health profiles, incomes, family makeup – and they are integral to the entire digital ad ecosystem.

Exact Data CEO, Larry Organ comments, “The hysteria caused by the data breach at Facebook has led to an over-reaction that will impact legitimate ad targeting. Rather than surrendering to an uninformed public, Facebook should have used this moment to educate users about how they collect data and use it to tailor ads to their interests to better serve them relevant content.”

Facebook ad microtargeting benefits both brands and consumers by displaying advertisements for things consumers might, conceivably, be interested in rather than deluging them with products they have no interest in purchasing. The elimination of Facebook targeting options will have a significant impact on conversion rates and the future of social marketing as a whole.

Exact Data’s product is data, but its strength is technology. For more information please contact us at 877.440.3282 or