Now, if you’re one of those people who, like me, still watches live television and is, as a result, still forced to endure television advertising, then you may have seen a certain social media giant advertising heavily in recent weeks.

Facebook’s “Here Together” campaign is aimed at end-users of Facebook, promising to bring users more control over their privacy and the content they want to see.

You can view the campaign video here:

What does the “Here Together” campaign video actually say?

Well, one thing it doesn’t say is: sorry.

Facebook notably leaves an apology out of the video, which itself is focused on the things that people ‘come to Facebook for’ i.e. friends and family and the things they didn’t, i.e. clickbait, fake news, spam.

It doesn’t actually give you much detail at all, other than that ‘Facebook is Changing’.

So how are users supposed to know what's changing?

Well, what you won’t see at the end of the video is a URL - which only appears to be visible on the television advertisement itself.

Whether this is because Facebook didn’t have a dedicated landing page when the campaign first launched (the YouTube video was posted in April) or because they want to make it hard to find, we can only speculate.

We noted it down though - it’s: FB.me/FBChangesUK which redirects you to the URL https://changesuk.splashthat.com.

Interestingly, the page is not hosted on the Facebook website itself, but hosted by well, splashthat.com - so now we know Facebook occasionally outsources marketing activity outside of ‘The Factory’.

So what are these UK Facebook changes?

Currently the focus is on two things, though the site states that ‘over the coming months we’ll be announcing more’.

If the website went live at the same time as the advert on YouTube, then - nearly 3 months on - we’re surely due a bit more, especially with Facebook’s own News Room posting much more up-to-date content.

The two current sections are:

Privacy

Facebook has or will be asking every one of its users to make choices on:

  • Whether the user is happy for Facebook to deliver ads based on data from partners e.g. websites and apps that use the Facebook ‘like button’.
  • Whether the user is happy to continue allowing Facebook to have and use the political, religious and relationship information contained on their profile.
  • Whether they are happy for Facebook to use face recognition technology.
  • Agree to updated terms of service and data policy.

Redesigning privacy settings:

They have also updated privacy settings on mobile to be available on one screen rather than ‘nearly 20’ in addition to ‘Privacy shortcuts’ on desktop: https://www.facebook.com/privacy/ so privacy settings are not so hard to locate.

Centralised access to information:

Not only will users have improved access to their privacy settings, Facebook has created one ultimate centre for each user’s data.

All users will be able to head to: https://www.facebook.com/your_information/ where they can browse or download all of their Facebook information.

This includes a ‘Your Information’ section, split into 17 sub-sections, focused on the information each user themselves has uploaded or contributed to Facebook, such as Posts, Comments, Photos, Videos, Reactions etc.

It also includes an ‘Information about you’ section across 6 sub-sections, focusing on the information Facebook contains on a user - notably the first section is 'Ads'.

Facebook_About_You-1

The Data Abuse Bounty

The final section Facebook covers under this page is a new ‘reward for reporting data misuse’.

Anyone with credible information on a threat to user information (e.g. data being collected to be sold or passed onto another company to be used for scams or political influence) can be compensated for providing this information to Facebook.

It takes a little bit of digging to find out exactly what falls in scope here but it seems where Facebook is notified (with factual proof) that any threat would affect the data of 10,000 or more Facebook Users, a user (if they are the first to let Facebook know) might be expected to receive a 'minimum' of...$500.

Whether this is a big enough incentive to attract whistleblowers in situations such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal - who knows?

What do Facebook’s privacy changes mean for consumers and advertisers?

Well, for consumers, the biggest change really appears to be awareness.

A lot of these features already existed in Facebook, but were spread across various pages and somewhat difficult to request or find.

Whether these prompts to review data will have much of an impact remains to be seen. If a user dismisses the initial alert to review their data, will they remember - or bother - to find where they can do so in the future?

The uptake of the above options could potentially impact advertisers, particularly now that users now have a dedicated section for managing their Ad preferences: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/

Facebook_Ads_Preferences-1

Users have control over their ad settings and can completely switch off:

  • ‘Ads based on data from partners’ (which now includes offline data)
  • ‘Ads based on your activity’ (where ads are displayed to users on the Facebook Audience Network - e.g. retargeting ads)
  • ‘Ads that include your social actions’ (e.g. where a user likes a page that is running an ad).

The more users that switch these types of advertising off, the more difficult targeting is for advertisers.

Features such as the Facebook pixel would no longer work for such users, meaning retargeting becomes more limited - particularly when using custom audiences.

“Advertisers you’ve interacted with” - bad news for advertisers?

One particularly interesting feature for users in the Ads preferences section is ‘Advertisers you’ve interacted with’.

Here users are able to view:

  • Advertisers that have uploaded their contact details into Facebook to run ads
  • Advertisers whose website or app they’ve used
  • Advertisers they’ve visited (physically - via location settings)
  • Advertisers whose ads they’ve clicked
  • Advertisers they’ve hidden

The first in the list could be problematic for advertisers.

This is the default view in the section, and essentially shows you any advertisers that:

  1. Have your contact details (e.g. email)
  2. Have uploaded your information to Facebook in order to advertise to you.

Facebook_Advertisers_You_Interect_With

Now, looking at my section here, I know that I have accounts on exactly two of these companies - Vimeo and Sky Bet (it is the world cup after all).

So I know they have my personal information, and I'm not surprised that they're using it to advertise to me.

As for the rest? I have absolutely no idea who any of the companies are, or how they got my data, so I can remove their ability to advertise to me permanently.

And my opinion of these companies that must have paid for - or obtained my data by dodgy means? Well, pretty damn low.

So in some respects, as long as you have followed all the right rules in obtaining your data and uploading it to Facebook for your custom audiences, you should be safe.

But it’s worth being aware that - with this new transparency - users will know exactly who is advertising to them - and what methods they’re using to do so.

Bonus Update: Your Facebook Adverts are now on show - to everyone.

As of June 28th 2018, Facebook users are able to access all of the advertisements you are currently running on Facebook, even if you’re not advertising to them - or even advertising in their country.

They simply have to head to your Facebook Page, select the 'Info and Ads' section on the left-hand side to display every Ad you have in play across the world:

Facebook_Nike_Info_And_Ads

Whilst this is arguably a great feature for consumers, it’s not so great for hiding your activity from competition.

Where formerly competitors would have to fall within your targeting range as individuals to view any of your adverts, they can now see:

  • The adverts you are running
  • The countries you are running adverts in
  • The type of adverts, imagery, design and copy you are using.
  • The landing pages your adverts take users to.

Whilst it’s not the end of the world, it’s worth bearing in mind when launching a new campaign or feature, or when reaching out to a new market.

Fake News

‘Fake news is bad for people and bad for Facebook.’ It’s a bold opening statement.

Whether some may say too little too late, it seems that the platform is putting its money where its mouth is and investing in the battle against false information.

Using worldwide fact-checking services, machine learning and new penalties, Facebook are taking a three-pronged approach to Fake News:

Remove:
Facebook will remove all accounts identified as fake, pulling all of their content from the site.

They allege to block millions of accounts each day at the point of registration, with new AI employed to help identify accounts faster.

Reduce:
Facebook’s algorithms will seek to find disreputable content and, once found, will ‘de-rank’ it, pushing it to the bottom of users’ feeds.

Whilst this action might not seem particularly tough, given that the content isn’t removed altogether, the argument is that by making Fake News unprofitable, those who spread spam, click-bait and lead users to low-quality websites should have no incentive to do so.

Will it work? We shall have to wait and see..

Inform:
Facebook will be rolling out a new ‘context button’ to give readers an understanding of the source of an article, so that they can decide whether or not to trust the publisher.

In addition to this, there will be a new global ‘related articles’ feature. This will display other sources of information for the same topic as articles in a user’s news feed - verified by 3rd party fact checkers.

What do Facebook’s Fake News strategies mean for consumers and advertisers?

In an ideal world for consumers, it will mean a higher proportion of truthful, relevant content in their news feed, and greater awareness of any articles that may be disputed or misleading out of context.

For advertisers, this should also be welcome news.

With click-bait and fake news being penalised, both in terms of ranking and advertisement (any publisher found to be consistently pushing out fake news will be banned from advertising altogether) this should mean less competition for legitimate advertisers - or at least perhaps a fairer playing field.

If you’re an advertiser that puts out misleading content, click-bait or spam then… well this is definitely not good news for you.

Hopefully you’re not one of those, and these changes shouldn’t affect you negatively.

Anyhow, if users are more willing to trust advertisers, then perhaps they’ll be less likely to restrict targeted advertising using the new controls Facebook has provided.

See? It's not all scary.

Summary

All in all, it seems Facebook’s (current) changes aren’t quite as radical as they might want consumers to believe.

A lot of the onus is still on consumers to actively - manually - put any advised restrictions in place, or look for information, so it will be interesting to know how many people take (or have taken) action as a result of this campaign.

Advertisers may be feeling a little hot under the collar with the new transparency Facebook is offering its users - including the way they’re being targeted - however Facebook’s war against fake news, click-bait and spam should hopefully shine a positive light on those advertisers who remain on the platform.

Want to spend more time reading blogs and less time worrying about your Facebook Ad spend?

References:

  1. Facebook Splashthat - Changes UK
  2. Facebook - Privacy Shortcuts
  3. Facebook - Access Your Information
  4. Facebook - Ads Preferences
  5. Facebook News Room - A new level of Transparency for Ads and Pages

Further Reading: