Facebook has announced that it will end its Partner Categories to limit the amount of information it shares with advertisers and collects off third-parties.
The practise itself is not necessarily uncommon throughout the industry as many companies which offer advertising solutions source additional data to make products more accurate. Organizations like Experian and Acxiom will provide additional information to platforms like Facebook to create the hyper-targeted advertising which is currently being intensely scrutinised.
“We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories,” the company said in a blog post. “This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”
Alongside this announcement, Facebook also restructured its platform to make privacy settings and controls more accessible to users. While it might not be the most attractive idea to advertisers or even the Facebook shareholders, the mission to recover the trust of the user is far from over. Cambridge Analytica is only one case which has been unveiled so far, we think there will be more revelations over the coming weeks and months; Facebook will need to do a lot of PR work to steady the ship.
For the moment, Facebook does seem to be doing an okay job when it comes to reassuring investors. There was a steep decline in share price during the immediate aftermath of the scandal, but it does seem to have stabilized over the last couple of days. Investors and shareholders will have an eye on the bigger picture; Facebook is not going to disappear overnight and will continue to make money, but winning back the general public will be a bit more difficult.
Cutting the ties with third parties is a sensible move from Facebook as it cannot control the practises in these organizations. It is an example of the business being proactive in identifying potential problems, as the government and privacy practises of these third-parties has not been put under the spotlight yet. All Facebook needs at the moment is being dragged into another scandal which it does not have direct control or influence on.
With new data regulations on the horizon, and politicians out for blood, Facebook needs to put across the impression it is angelic. The element of control is incredibly important in this projects. Facebook will be held accountable and therefore needs to make sure it is only involved in practises in which it can implant its own influence.