Facebook – The good, bad and maybe …  ugly

Those readers who have never had a Facebook profile or have deleted their profile will no doubt feel justified in their decision not to be part of the social media phenomena that has some 2-billion plus followers worldwide (some 14-million of whom are in South Africa). Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under the cosh recently with revelations on how Facebook harvest personal information and how this information was used by Cambridge Analytica to create psychographics which used personal data farmed off Facebook.

Psychograhics entails building a detailed psychological profile of a user that will allow a campaign to predict exactly what kind of appeal will be most likely to convince any particular user in a particular way. Whilst Cambridge Analytica was been fingered for using this for nefarious political influencing who is to say Facebook isn’t using it against to influence millions of users thus manipulating advertising income.

Zuckerberg has been summoned to give evidence in both Congress and Britain’s Parliament although he has refused the latter. But Zuckerberg is not alone in being called to testify for both Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitters Jack Dorsey have also been summoned by the Senate Judiciary chairman to attend a hearing on data privacy. Facebook stocks have taken a beating as have  Twitter with both stocks recently shedding over 10%. Added to this are some high profile individuals, none more so than Elon Musk who have deleted not only their personal profiles but also their business accounts. Maybe a knee-jerk reaction but it does indicate that there are those who it seems do not appreciate what Facebook has allowed to happen.

As one CNN commentator so aptly commented “there is no such thing as a free lunch” so don’t for a moment believe that Facebook or that free G-Mail account is being offered out of the goodness of Zuckerberg or Pinchai’s heart. There payback in terms of personal data and so it is up to individual users to decide how much they are prepared to share of their everyday lives.

Now there is no need to rush off and cancel your Facebook profile or G-Mail address but pay attention to what is private and what is not and make sure your kids understand the pitfalls. Take a little time to read more about what how you can set up your profile and maybe help your kids to ensure they too are protected. There is much research available online so ask Google for help and use it. Even Facebook will help you protect yourself if you take the time to do the research.

Of course not is all bad with Facebook, Twitter and the many other social media platforms that now abound on the Internet. As a means keeping in touch and up to date with friends and family Facebook and other social media offer a wonderful platform. Facebook also has a benefit for business to promote themselves and their products to say nothing of the huge benefits to charitable causes.

Sadly some Facebookers cannot help themselves and it has become a hobby to see how many posts they can put on the web daily. The marketing pundits recommend that ideally more than two to three posts a day but most agree each must find what works best for them. A local Facebook page that has it right is Cape St Francis Resort. Cape St Francis Resort post once a day and at a time that sees it head your own page each morning. St Francis Animal Rescue is a ‘cause’ related page that has through effective content, grown not only a good following but a following that willingly reposts thus spreading their reach.

Of course, there are others who don’t enjoy knitting blankets for the poor preferring to expend their energy posting and reposting throughout the day, even late into the night lest we forget them. Sadly these posts clutter one’s profile and are the first to be ‘unfriended’ when the amount of posts filling one’s profile becomes so overwhelming that deleting one’s entire profile becomes a sensible option. But they are not the ultimate pariahs of Social Media for this is reserved for those who repost FAKE NEWS. Whether they repost what is so obviously FAKE News simply because they are too stupid to understand the difference or do it for a chuckle one will never know but it leaves a question as to their intelligence.

With the 2019 General elections just 18 months away one wonders if any of our political parties will find ways to manipulate Social Media.

Interesting article in Huffington Post this morning

Facebook App Data Mining May Affect Up To 60,000 South Africans – Cambridge Analytica may have harvested and shared data from even more Facebook users than was originally thought.