​The Britton Digital Update—Week of March 19, 2018

​Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

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I hate to be the one to break it to you, but... If you are an active participant in the #DeleteFacebook movement happening right now, it won’t solve anything.

Let me be clear: Your data is everywhere.

Pandora’s big box of data opened a long time ago, before anyone could even fathom the consequences. For many years, we have granted permission to others to access our data and track us with cookies, in exchange for access to services and content. In many cases, you didn’t understand the terms of this exchange or simply had no idea it was even taking place. (Be honest: When was the last time you read the fine print when signing up for a “free” online service?)

When you are on Facebook, your actions are tracked.

When you complete that goofy quiz to find out what your spirit animal is, your data is tracked.

When you are on email, you are tracked.

When you use apps on your phone, your searches, location, and purchases are all tracked.

When you use navigation systems in your car, your location, speed, distance, and activity are all tracked.

This is not the first treasure trove of data to be misused—and it likely won’t be the last. Yahoo, LinkedIn, Target, and others all had large data breaches. Remember, Equifax? That breach affected 148 million people. Your data is already everywhere.

There are plenty of marketing companies that exist to piece together this data, too. It doesn’t matter if you turn off cookies on your browser. Every time you open a phone app, information is matched to your profile and collected by the data company. It might be tracked by a Facebook account, by email, or even through your device ID. Have two smartphones, a laptop, and an iPad at home? These companies already know how many devices are likely attached to your profile thanks to your email.

You may want to #DeleteFacebook because you are appalled at the lack of guard when it comes to your data. It may be the last straw after several years of a divisive newsfeed. You want out? That’s fine. But you need to understand a few things.

First, deleting the app only removes the app from your phone; it does nothing to gain control of your data. Second, deactivating your account is not the same as deleting it. That takes a few extra steps. It’s a bit harder than you think. Even if you don’t want to use Facebook, it still tracks and targets you with ads on its Facebook Ad Network. And, again, even if you delete your account, many other networks and services (like email) have pieced together your user profile.

This is not all bad. As brands and marketers, this information helps us to find relevant users, then show them the right message at the right time. It makes ads more relevant to you while making marketing more efficient. It’s not at all manipulative. In fact, the trend is to rely even more on data so ads can be personalized, too. While we find irrelevant ads intrusive, seeing a relevant ad may lead you to a purchase, to awareness of a new restaurant or church, or even a job opportunity. A study released this week found that 87% of loyalty program members didn’t mind that their online moves were monitored and tracked in exchange for personalized rewards.

When data is not guarded—as was the case with Facebook—there is public outcry. The problem with Facebook prior to 2015 is that, when it allowed developer access to download our data, it could no longer control what happened to the data. Once downloaded, the information could be sold, shared, and misused. According to the Wall Street Journal, Cambridge Analytica may only be a minor incident. WSJ reports that a search site, called Profile Engine, collected information from more than 420 million user profiles in 2011.

It’s too late to close Pandora’s big box of data. If you want to #DeleteFacebook, go ahead. Just know that your data is still everywhere. To do something about it requires a move “off the grid” (without resurfacing on a device ever again), not to mention a shiny collection of tinfoil hats.

We cover Facebook’s reaction to the Cambridge Analytica misuse of data and more in this edition of the Britton Digital Update, along with the latest digital, retail, social media, and marketing news.


Through a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg released a statement in reaction to the Cambridge Analytica’s data misuse. It was over 900 words long. None of them were the word “sorry.” Let’s just say that didn’t go over well online. Facebook’s CEO later rectified that in an interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, saying, “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened. Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Facebook claimed it failed because it had never followed up with Cambridge Analytica to ensure the deletion of the data it possessed. Further, Facebook said it recently found out about the existence of the data, too. As a result of the scandal, Facebook is making some changes.

Facebook is investigating any app that had access to large volumes of data prior to a 2014 policy change. It is also removing access to your data for any app that you haven’t used in the past 90 days. Facebook is limiting the data it shares with developers to only your name, profile photo, and email address. However, those apps can ask for permission to see more data, like accessing your posts or private information. It will also provide you a tool so that you can review the apps that you have given permission to view your data. The tool will include an easy way to revoke permission.

Most of the damage (shared data) was done in 2014 or prior. And that can’t be un-shared. Your data has been “out there” and there is no way to reel it back in.

Not-So-Open Door Policy

In many cases, the reason we exchange privacy is for convenience. If you told people 20 years ago that we would let our cell phones and speakers in our house actually listen to our conversations, they would have said not a chance. Yet we do when we allow smart assistants like Siri and Alexa listen for commands (wake words). The line of what we aren’t willing to give up keeps moving. In 2018, that line is currently at our front door.

While we are willing to let smart speakers, video cameras, and smartphones inside our homes, that list doesn’t include delivery people. RetailDive reports that a majority of consumers are not willing to use the Amazon Key delivery service. This is where couriers deliver your packages inside your home, gaining granted access through smart locks and video cameras.

RetailDive cited a recent study saying that more than 75% of women and 60% of men surveyed are unwilling to use the service. The biggest concerns related to letting a courier into your home are stealing, privacy breaches, and pets that could escape out the door.

Amazon is trying to solve the problem of packages getting stolen off front porches (as many as 20% of them are!), but we may be putting our foot down before allowing strangers into our homes.

An Uber Accident

Let’s switch gears away from privacy. (See what I did there?) There are several potential benefits to a future of autonomous driving. Those benefits could include eliminating distracted and drunk driving, eliminating accidents, improved traffic flow, more time for productivity, and lowering cost of insurance. Unfortunately, the future is just as it sounds: not the present. The technology is not quite where it needs to be yet.

While autonomous driving is being tested in several areas across the country, many programs have applied the brake after recent reports that a woman crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona, was hit and killed by a self-driving car. How is it possible that with all of the technology on-board the accident still occurred? Clearly, there is more work to do.

Local police said that it would have been impossible to avoid the accident. After seeing the video of the moments leading up to the accident, you might agree with them. It occurred at night, and the pedestrian and bicycle appeared at the very last minute. While there was a safety operator behind the wheel at the time, he looked away, seconds before the accident occurred. An investigation is underway to determine why the vehicle didn’t detect the pedestrian.

The long-term impact of this accident is unclear. In many states, regulations on autonomous vehicles are still under development. This accident may speed up that process. Most driverless vehicle testing is temporarily paused until tech companies can figure out what steps to take to prevent another accident.

The Next Web reports that this is only the second accident ever by an Uber driverless vehicle and the first fatal accident. It doesn’t matter. It is far more important to get this technology right, rather than to get this technology fast.

Taking Shopping Action

Google and Amazon are butting heads on a number of fronts including the battle for smart speaker share. One of the reasons they are battling so hard is that these brands understand how smart speakers can be a gateway to our future shopping dollars. If one of the brands can get you into their “eco-system,” you may be more likely spend your dollars through that eco-system because it is more convenient. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to ask Alexa or Google Assistant to order something.

While we may not be using our smart speakers to shop just yet, we are often asking the device (or using mobile search to ask) where we can buy a specific product. Daniel Alegre, Google’s president for retail and shopping, told Reuters that “over the past two years, mobile searches asking where to buy products soared by 85 percent.

Thus Google launched a new product called Shopping Actions. According to Google, Shopping Actions “gives customers an easy way to shop your products on the Google Assistant and Search with a universal cart, whether they’re on mobile, desktop or even a Google Home device.” Engadget reports that Google is teaming up with Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco, and Ulta to test specific sponsored shopping ads based on the retailer’s product catalog and user searches. Additionally, a universal cart across search (think Amazon’s one-click shopping) makes purchases even more convenient.

Google’s new Shopping Actions uses a pay-per-sale model. Similar to pay-per-click, this means you only pay when a sale actually takes place. The retailers already involved are sharing incredible results. We’ll watch to see what, if any, impact this can have on Amazon.

For the rest of the latest news, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Photos: BMDG

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode