Privacy: it’s a recurring hot-topic for social media observers. Whether it’s the Ryan Giggs injunction debacle of 2011, the Tulisa sex-tape scandal, or the recent saucy snaps of Wills, Kate and Harry: it’s widely accepted that social media has propelled us into a new era of anti-privacy, facilitating as it does the real-time spread of information, photos and video content.
It’s not just the privacy of the celebrity that is perceived to be jeopardised by the use of social media platforms though – and while we wouldn’t call it a ‘trend’ just yet, there is the option for the savvy Facebook user to switch off access to their data via the Facebook API. This retrospectively disallows access to data for all previously connected applications, and protects your personal data from getting into the hands of those pesky, pillaging Facebook developers. While it won’t delete any previously collated data from applications, ‘turning off’ one’s ability to use apps, plugins and websites via Facebook seems, among some analysts, symbolic of clawing back some of your privacy.
What perhaps the social savvy <1% of Facebook users who utilise this functionality didn’t count on was the impact that unplugging Facebook’s API would have on community managers. If apps can’t access your data, then 3rd party moderation, marketing and customer service tools won’t capture the content that you post on page timelines and updates. In turn, community managers might not be able to moderate or respond to your posts.
To combat this issue, Facebook has introduced a feature whereby pages can revoke posting and commenting functionality for users who don’t allow apps and websites to connect to them via Facebook. In theory, if a page employs this feature, 3rd party tools should be able to collate all of the data posted to the timeline and page updates, ensuring that no content goes unmoderated or unanswered. In theory…
But should brand pages adopt this approach? Should brand pages actively exclude fans from the community just because they don’t want to share their data with Farmville, for example? As the controversy around Facebook privacy worsens, the <1% minority of users denying apps access to data will only continue to grow. In excluding this minority do brand pages run the risk of losing previously engaged fans, or even ambassadors? At present, with such a small minority using the option to disconnect from apps, the pros outweigh the cons. It’s a no-brainer – in disallowing posts from fans who disconnect from apps, we limit the possibility of a moderation crisis when using 3rd party moderation tools. Additionally, from an engagement or customer service point of view we ensure that no question or concern goes unanswered. For the most part brands seem to agree. However, the caveat should be that brands watch the <1% carefully, and adapt their strategy as it grows. Meanwhile, the health-warning is that brands may see a backlash from the <1% – staged in the social spaces in which they’re still allowed to engage!