Facebook, Privacy & PR

Yesterday afternoon I sat down with the folks from PR Week for the Video Podcast to discuss the recent changes to Facebook's privacy policy, and how they have handled the PR around it. Here is the vid;

This was filmed ahead of last night's announcements from Facebook about the next steps in Privacy control with the "masterswitch" that will be rolling out to users in the coming days.

Below is the video posted on the Facebook blog from Mark Zuckerburg about the new changes. Which, in terms of content is great. It terms of delivery however... well it speaks for itself - AWEFUL. A monotone CEO is every PR's nightmare, let alone visibly reading from an AutoCue. Now we all know Mark has never been the best communicator, he is no Steve Jobs, and we have no reason to expect him to be.

However as I mentioned in the podcast - we are talking about one of companies that is encouraging and enabling, sharing, openness and sociality - and they respond to a problem that effects nearly 500 Million people in a totally unsociable way.

So what can we learn here?

Simply:

  • Respond early and openly - don't hide in the shadows of a looming crisis, move swiftly
  • If your brand image is one about friendship and community - choose spokespeople that reflect that brand image
  • If you are socially enabled business - BE SOCIAL - use what is at hand to your advantage - a direct link into the homes of over 500 million people is a tool worth using when necessary

Monday Mocha Musing - Edition 2: Guest Post: Facebook’s fresh privacy fracas: By Lewis Webb (Shiny Red)

Good afternoon all. This week's Monday Mocha Musing comes from friend and fellow social media expert Lewis Webb (@lewiswebb) from Shiny Red " joint venture between The Red Consultancy and the founders of UK blog network Shiny Media." Lewis has been working in Social Media since 2002 and has worked across a wide range of tech clients to more consumer brands. Lewis' post this week looks at the new content regulations of Facebook, and how it may effect your digital freedom, and copywrite protection.

And now... on with the post...

 

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, worldwide license to use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, scan, reformat, modify, edit, adapt, create derivative works and distribute, any user content you post on or in connection with the Facebook Service.

That’s paraphrased directly from Facebook’s new terms and conditions, which – as you can imagine – has caused not a small amount of discussion in the world of social media. From expelled students and  Royal breakups to its over-intrusive Beacon platform, Facebook has been courting controversy rather more than it might like to admit over the last 12 months. On top of this, the social network has yet to answer questions around data portability in a convincing way. While reception to its interoperability platform “Connect” was positive, their spokesperson at Le Web in Paris was rightly called out by Michael Arrington for paying little more than lip service to the idea of open standards in social media. At its core, Facebook remains a walled garden and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

These new T&Cs don’t help its cause one bit, but while those “in the know” will tut and shake their heads in despair, it’s unlikely that the average Facebook user will notice any difference at first – so why should they care? Well why not compare this attitude with Flickr’s “if it’s not public, it’s all yours” content policy – which, incidentally, terminates should you remove it from the site unlike the new FB small-print. It seems that in the world of social media there’s an ideological debate going on where companies on the statist Left want to control and take ownership of content, while the open-source Right takes a more libertarian approach to it all. Of course there’s a balance to be struck, but this recent development only strengthens the argument of those who shy away from social media for fear details about their lives being controlled by or falling into the wrong hands. But perhaps the social network should be more concerned about the “what-if” factor... as an established consumer brand around the world, if FB trips itself up through misuse of the new “agreement” any time soon, you can expect the backlash to go beyond the online media set to its core audience of (so-far) contented everyday users.

Thanks to Lewis for this, you can also find it on the Shiny Red Blog, and Lewis' own musings at Social ProBiotic

Next Week - Nick Fell, Ogilvy One (@nickfell) will give us his musing. Check it out here, next monday.