I’ve heard a few news clips here and there about the Cambridge Analytica “scandal”… this is an interesting article that gives some good info and understanding about the data that was and to some degree still is harvested through facebook apps. What I’m confused by is how this is coming up now as scandalous news?! Seriously, what exactly do people think is happening online? YOU ARE BEING TRACKED AND ANALYZED AND TARGETED FOR MARKETING ALL THE TIME! (Unless, you are heavily active in blocking all cookies, using a VPN web browser and never providing any demographic info on any social media sites ever. Which for a majority – probably large majority – of people is not the case.)
I think my problem is that I know this because this is the business I live and work in. Digital marketing relies on being able to at some level ID the people that are potential candidates for a businesses product or service so that money can be effectively spent to win customers.
I’m not trying to defend this reality, in fact often times I find it annoying and invasive myself and desire to disconnect and pull the plug. And sometimes I do. But our society was given this model and we’ve accepted it, and expect these social tools, and content and information to be at the tip of our fingers…FOR FREE. Nothing is free, and we pay, by letting organization, people and companies market to us.
I need to point something out here… Beware, it’s “political” … but please know this is not really meant to defend Trump or conservatives…goodness, please know that. While I think the media has done a lot to throw mud at him, he’s also done a good job sticking his own foot in his mouth too. I pray for him as a leader, but I find his ethical and moral character… challenging to swallow. While I will admit to leaning more conservative I do my best to reject political party favoritism and do my best to reserve all loyalty for my savior Jesus Christ alone. STILL, it is interesting (and by interesting, I mean ridiculous and lopsided) that after the 2012 Obama election I heard and saw several news stories about how great the companies hired and working for the DNC were at collecting and utilizing data to engage and win votes for Obama. The difference between that and the data harvest and target marketing “scandal” which transpired during the last election I can almost guarantee is slim to none.
I’m sure that knowing how it all works and being in this industry and using these tools for my own clients to better help them grow and engage their customers base, gives me some advantage on the perspective of this subject. But many people with no real knowledge of how this digital marketing world works jokingly say and acknowledge “Facebook knows everything about me”, or “Amazon keeps following me around trying to get me to buy that whiz-popper thing”. Hello? Yes, that’s right, Facebook AND a boatload of other big data mining and analytic companies, KNOW all about you… More specifically they know about your geographic whereabouts, group affiliations, shopping habits, financial status, relationship status, likes and dislikes etc… and they sell that info to businesses that want to cater to and promote things to you that are aligned with your personality and habits.
In doing my best to BE a Christian and a decent human I often asked myself if the companies I represent and work to help are companies that are morally and ethically sound. I ask myself the same about the work I do for them, I want to know that the work we are doing for them in collecting data and marketing to help them grow is done in a transparent and fair way that the customer understands and hopefully can even appreciate.
Mostly, at least at the commercial level (of which I’m including political ad spending), all this data mining and “target marketing” is done in an honest, open and fair manor, sometimes it’s done underhandedly and without good ethics or values. So, be aware, and act accordingly.
What that means is, know that it’s out there, and know that it’s happening, so that you are careful with your personal information. Take precaution and use wisdom when providing information online or in person. If you aren’t sure about something, WAIT, don’t do it. Ask someone else you believe might be knowledgeable to help ya out.
But don’t live in fear, and don’t get sucked into the hype. Trust that the God already knows it all and that God’s going to use whatever this world comes up with for his GOOD purpose. Hopefully they are tracking all the encouraging and uplifting messages that you’re sending to friend and foe alike and getting a taste of how Jesus taught us to treat one another. God Bless and take care out there!
For the purpose of clarity here are a couple articles related to my whole reason for “ranting” above: