Facebook (and many of the social networks) have already been putting greater transparency measures in place in the recent waves of scrutiny and interest. For example, Facebook discussed openly how it deals with abuse and radicalisation, and Canada allowed consumers to see what ads a company is running at any one time.
Facebook’s latest move to be supportive is to help with the forthcoming GDPR regulations. Compared to many overly legalistic guidelines, Facebook’s information does a good job of explaining what businesses using Facebook need to know. For example – and I’m paraphrasing – it essentially says things like “when we do custom audience matching, we’re the data processor, when you decide the purpose of processing data, you’re the data controller”
Now back in January, Facebook approached this from the user perspective, giving consumers the ability to control how they were advertised to and it’ll be interesting to see how this evolves and how the ICO views this. At the moment, the privacy page is very granular, but it’s not the easiest page to reach or customise. I imagine that come May, Facebook will present a pop-up that users cannot click away from, forcing them to review their ad and privacy choices.
Otherwise, they’ll be marketing on the basis of legitimate interest rather than unambiguous consent - and whilst this is still legal, it’s on slightly shakier ground. After all, ‘legitimate interest’ could justifiably be argued based on a link to demographic groups (e.g. you’re 18-21 and list ‘music’ as an interest, so Facebook will serve you music-based ads) but it does rather put the onus for consent back on the advertiser. Since advertisers aren’t in control of the platform, and doing ‘per ad consent’ would be a nightmare, this isn’t a great solution.
In the meantime, if you’re one of the advertisers that contributes to Facebook’s $36bn ad revenue, use this page and know where you stand!