Facebook, reeling from the data scandal brought on by Cambridge Analytica, is rushing to add more protection to users’ data, readying a certification tool that would require marketers to guarantee that the email addresses they are using to target ads were collected in proper ways.
TechCrunch, citing two unnamed sources, reported that the tool — dubbed Custom Audiences certification tool — was discussed with Facebook’s marketing clients. The report noted Facebook is also preventing marketers from sharing Custom Audience data across business accounts. In a note sent to clients, Facebook stated: “for any Custom Audiences data imported into Facebook, Advertisers will be required to represent and warrant that proper user content has been obtained,” reported TechCrunch.
Elisabeth Diana, a Facebook spokesperson, told TechCrunch in a subsequent statement that Facebook is working on building a permission tool that will require advertisers and agencies to pledge that they have permission to use the data. “We’ve always had terms in place to ensure that advertisers have consent for data they use but we’re going to make that much more prominent and educate advertisers on the way they can use the data,” the spokesperson said. "The change isn’t in response to a specific incident, but Facebook does plan to re-review the way it works with third-party data measurement firms to ensure everything is responsibly used. This is a way to safeguard data.” TechCrunch noted Facebook wouldn't say if it has ever stopped a marketer from Custom Audience because of a lack of user consent. Custom Audiences was launched in 2012, enabling businesses to upload lists of customers' email addresses and phone numbers, which can be used by advertisers to target specific customers. It became a very powerful advertising tool, letting businesses reach their existing customers, noted the report.
Last week — aiming to quell outrage over the data scandal in which Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that worked on President Donald Trump's election campaign, got ahold of data on 50 million Facebook users without their consent — Facebook picked up the pace of new privacy tools. Facebook executives Erin Egan, VP and chief privacy officer, and Ashlie Beringer, VP and deputy general counsel, announced in a blog post on Wednesday (March 28) that the social media company is speeding up updates that give its billions of users more control over their privacy in the wake of the latest data scandal at the company. While many of the updates that will be released in next few weeks were already in the works for awhile, the scandal with Cambridge Analytica has increased the company’s sense of urgency. “Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data,” Egan and Beringer wrote. “We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed. So, in addition to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcements last week — cracking down on abuse of the Facebook platform, strengthening our policies and making it easier for people to revoke apps’ ability to use your data — we’re taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy.”