In a 2014 Pew Research Study, 80% of social media users reported that they were concerned about privacy risks associated with their social media sites.
Last year, 44% of users aged 18-29 deleted the Facebook app from their phones as a result of the continuing bad news about Facebook’s willingness to share any and all of their private information (see recent posts on this topic). So, could it be that Facebook has begun to get the message? The company announced Wednesday that they will offer encrypted messages as a central part of business (ref WSJ). This is definitely a change from the current situation where not only is a user’s private information shared, but they are beset with targeted advertisements as well – the result of their private information having been sold to those advertisers. The encrypting is intended to both lock up conversations, as well as to delete them (a la Snapchat style). It’s possible that that new working situation will stem the outflow of users but, then, again, when users have come to distrust a company, there’s always the chance that they will not want to take future risks. The WSJ, ever in the pocket of Facebook, relates that the move will “complicate Facebook’s business.” Awwww – what a shame. Apparently, the problem is that Facebook, which gets 98% of its revenue from advertisers, since the Facebook service, per se, is “free” to the user (so long as they give up their privacy and their private information) – still hasn’t found a way to generate significant revenue from its messaging platforms. It’s amazing what investors and Wall Street will put up with. The company’s shares are extraordinarily expensive – and, this with a company that “hasn’t been able to generate significant revenue” from all the private information that it has been selling to advertisers – ? The “clear history” feature that Facebook has said that it will be adding to its website (for those of you holding your breath waiting for this to happen – don’t) is expected to adversely affect its ability to deliver targeted ads to its actual customers – the advertisers. Wall Street – ever optimistic – is still expecting Facebook’s “ad machine” to keep growing, surpassing the $100 billion mark by 2022. CEO Zuckerberg has said that, “There is as rich of a platform to develop the intimate and private communications as there is around the more public one.” Whoa – what could this mean? In response to my earlier rhetorical question, “No, I’d say that they haven’t gotten the message. They just plan to do what they’ve always done and go around the Facebook users with a few new clever tricks up their sleeves.” As I’ve said before – “User Beware.”