Every person on the Internet is being tracked, monitored, and registered by different digital technologies and companies. Most people are now used to this for marketing and advertising purposes. You can check out a pair of shoes on one website, then immediately start seeing ads for that same pair of shoes on a completely different website. It is not a coincidence when Google Ads is suddenly full of car ads after a car quote goes to your Gmail. It is just now the cost of using free online services.
What if your personal data is collected for something other than advertising?
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook for their privacy practices, as Cambridge Analytica collected user information on about 50 million Facebook users. Facebook collects gigabytes of information on each user, which is ripe for data mining. This “big data” can provide patterns, trends, and associations on millions of users. The allegations suggest Cambridge Analytica used this information for a political guerilla marketing campaign.
The problem for Facebook is users had their information taken without express consent. Stock prices have since tanked, and potential fines would easily bankrupt the company. A class action law suit has almost certainly been filed asking for billions in damages.
How did Facebook get into this mess?
That was in 2011. According to the most recent allegations, the company is still struggling to keep user information safe.
What can small businesses learn from Facebook?
With hundreds or even thousands of violations, the potential cost quickly spirals out of control. This scenario played out in Season 4, Episode 2 of Silicon Valley, where a terms of service issue creates a $21 billion problem for the fledgling startup. It also ended Dinesh’s short time as CEO, which was great TV.
Using a qualified attorney to review these documents can protect small businesses from potentially huge problems.