Cambridge Analytica and Personal Privacy

Digital marketers have been profiling consumers psychographically for some time now.  But the Cambridge Analytica Facebook Psychographic Advertising Controversy marks the first time people appreciated the risks.

By making it easier than ever to share your thoughts, ideas and activities online, social media blurs the lines between public and private information.

Cause while social networks are the fastest way to relay information to your friends and family, the byproduct of all that sharing is digital information that can be archived, analyzed, discovered, shared and possibly even used against you in an investigation or lawsuit.

So what are your privacy rights online? If you’re in the US, all states agree that people should having the following privacies:

  1. Physical and Sexual Privacy—other people should not be able to see you naked unless you want them to. And even then, their privacy rights may protect them from having to see you naked.
  2. Privacy at Home –to do the things we want to do without surveillance or interference, unless it’s illegal.
  3. Medical Privacy—personal health information is, well, personal. So employees aren’t usually required to disclose that information; and employers generally can’t release it to other people.
  4. Financial Privacy—taxes and personal finances are private and do not have to be disclosed, except when there is a legitimate reason.

To decide whether someone’s privacy has been violated, courts ask three main questions:

  1. Was there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, which means, was it reasonable for the person to expect that whatever happened would be private.
  2. Whether the interference was a significant intrusion, which could be logging into a social media account or computer system that you have not been authorized to access.
  3. And whether there’s a good reason for disclosing something, even if it is private

What happens when something you’ve posted on social media gets republished in another medium?

A social networking user who penned an article on her page criticizing her own hometown was republished in the local newspaper, and the article was attributed to her first name. She sued the newspaper for invasion of privacy, claiming the paper published private facts that resulted in her being harassed.

The court disagreed, because what was republished by the newspaper was never private, so she had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The takeaway is, when you share information on social networks, in most cases you are giving up your right to privacy, because it’s unreasonable for you to think that after sharing something publicly on Facebook or Twitter, you can still keep it private.

You’re forfeiting any reasonable expectation of privacy.

So anything you do or share on a social network is really free game for marketers to capture is store in your profile, if they have one on you.

Any company you have a loyalty rewards card with, like your grocery store, drug store, frequent flyer program or credit card has a profile on you in their customer relationship management program, and chances are they layering social networking data in there too.

If you haven’t already, now might be a good time to take our free Social Media Privacy Course, particularly if you’re a manager.

And listen to this podcast on your CCPA compliance requirements.