Facebook is adding some new sections to its ‘Download Your Data‘ (Instagram) and ‘Download Your Information‘ (Facebook) tools in order to provide more transparency over the information it collects on your activities, and how it uses them to show you more relevant ads and content as a result.
As explained by Facebook:
“Over the last decade we’ve been working to extend the functionality of our self-service data access tools to help people access data in meaningful ways. Today’s step is part of these efforts. There have also been growing efforts by many policymakers and regulators to enhance people’s rights around access to their data. These laws include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, which was implemented in 2018 and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which took effect earlier this year.”
Essentially, Facebook is adding these new sections to ensure full adherence to the CCPA, providing access to more complete insight into the various ways in which its platforms track and store user information – and what that information is, specifically, for your profile.
The new elements now included in your data reports will be:
- Interactions on Facebook and Instagram – Facebook will now provide information on the actions you take on its platforms, including profile updates, Page and post Likes, comments, etc. Much of this information was already included in its previous report option, but Facebook is adding more specific insight to increase transparency over its processes.
- Inferences Used to Improve Your Experiences – Facebook will also now include more data on ‘inferences’, or data correlations that it uses to show you more relevant content. “For example, if someone shares an article about a football team that one of their friends posted, we may show them other football-related content. We infer that the person is interested in football because they engaged with their friend’s article about the sport”. Inferences are essentially educated guesses based on what you engage with.
- Categories Assigned to Instagram Accounts – Facebook will also now include a list of the categories it’s assigned to each user on Instagram, which it uses to suggest content in the Explore tab (you can get an idea of this already via Ad Interests on Instagram and Facebook’s Ad Preferences).
Inferences is the big point of emphasis of Facebook’s update. The Social Network is keen to point out that it’s not the only digital platform that uses inferences in its content recommendation processes, and that these digital breadcrumbs can help deliver improved, customized experiences for each user.
So while some might question how Facebook is able to match them up with relevant ads and content recommendations, Facebook is looking to highlight how inferences play a key role in this – as opposed to, say, your phone “listening” into your everyday conversations and tracking what you say, which Facebook has repeatedly noted that it does not do.
Through inferences, Facebook is able to improve the relevance and accuracy of its systems, often in ways you wouldn’t expect. That’s because Facebook’s databases is so huge, incorporating the actions of some 2.5 billion people. At that scale, Facebook’s systems are very good at inferring trends. And they may even be able to infer such before you realize that’s what you’re interested in.
For example, on a broad enough scale, you would be able to identify the next steps that people are going to take. People who like country music will like four-wheel drives, will like camping, etc. (this is a very broad and basic example, not intended to stereotype). At Facebook’s scale, it can actually spot those later trends coming, so while you may not have thought that you’d be interested in buying a new tent, you may have started on that journey, and that can lead to Facebook pointing you to content, even ads, that you’re going to be interested in, before you even know it.
That could, among many other factors, be why Facebook and Instagram seem to show you ads for products that you swear you’ve never looked up, that you’ve only mentioned with friends. Inferences somewhat clarifies this, and seeks to provide more transparency over how its systems operate.
It’s good to see Facebook providing more tools on this front – even if history shows that people probably won’t use them. Still, the fact is that they exist, and they’re there to access. If you have a question about how Facebook’s systems work, and what it knows about you and your preferences, you can download your info and check it out, at any time, while you can also update your Ad Preferences to stop seeing ads from brands you don’t like.
To access our self-service tools, you can visit Download Your Information and Access Your Information, Download Your Data, Ad Preferences, Why Am I Seeing This Ad, Access Your Data and Why Am I Seeing This Post, and Off-Facebook Activity.
Snapchat Publishes New Report into the Importance of Privacy Tools in Facilitating Online Sharing
Snapchat has published a new report which provides some deeper insight into the importance of online privacy, and the key concerns that users have in regards to the content that they share online.
The report, based on a survey of over 13,500 people in 11 markets, uncovers some valuable considerations for both platforms and marketers, and reinforces the logic behind some of the latest social app developments, in regards to increased user control, encryption, and more. It also sheds light on how such controls – or the lack of them – can influence people’s behavior online.
It’s an interesting overview – you can download Snap’s full, 28-page report here, but in this post, we’ll take a look at some of the key points.
First off, Snap notes that both Snapchatters and non-Snap users are concerned about online privacy, with 81% of respondents noting that online privacy is important. At the same time, only 65% indicated that they’re satisfied with their current privacy options.
That’s a key gap in the current digital connection process which underlines the need for increased control measures on this front, and more options, like private messaging and audience controls, to help reassure users.
Which is the next key point – the report highlights the three key benefits of digital privacy, based on responses.
Each aspect facilitates more open communication, and without relevant measures in place, social platforms are not able to cater to these needs.
Self-expression is one of the most important elements, with users feeling more free to communicate when they’re comfortable with the available privacy tools and options.
Indeed, the majority of respondents indicated that privacy concerns impact what they share online, and how they communicate.
It’s an interesting consideration – originally, with the arrival of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, there was a new sense of freedom and capacity to share your voice, and connect with like-minded people around the world, based on shared interests. Over time, that’s gradually shifted, as more controversies and concerns have arisen from over-sharing or past post insights, which has seen more people become more enclosed once again, and shy away from public sharing.
Which makes sense, but it also means that what we see online is often not representative of the breadth of views out there, because many people are concerned about what sharing their thoughts and opinions could mean, and how it could potentially be used against them. Which is why more privacy controls can open up greater levels of expression and engagement, and why more people are looking to advanced tools, like messaging encryption, to gain that extra level of assurance.
Which is also why Snapchat has been able to maintain and grow its audience, despite rising competition in the space.
Snapchat has always presented itself as a key alternative for more intimate, private discussion, a place for friends to connect, not to broadcast your life to the world. And while that is also more restrictive, in a content sense, Snap’s approach has clearly resonated with a lot of people, and enabled it to carve a niche in the broader social and messaging space.
The report also goes into depth on the full reasons that influence how and why people share on social, and the tools that people rely on to enhance their experience.
There are some interesting insights and considerations here, which, as noted, largely reflect the latest social media innovations in improved audience controls, evolving private messaging tools, safety functions, reporting and more.
Without these elements, people simply won’t share, and won’t engage online at the same rate. And as we move into the next stage of digital connection, where we’re likely to spend even more time online, and potentially expose even more of ourselves, such measures will remain critically important in order to keep people safe.
You can read Snapchat’s full ‘Global Perceptions of Privacy’ report here.
New Report Underlines the Importance of Social Media in Connecting with Gen Z Consumers
To glean some insight into the shifting state of customer expectations, Qualtrics surveyed 9,000 consumers, across a breadth of age brackets, to measure the variance in importance on a range of measures between Gen Z, Baby Boomers and everything in between.
The findings highlight some key considerations for all brands – first off, the data indicates that Gen Z is the most likely to be upset by a negative interaction with a company.
“Gen Z is the generation least likely to report being happy with their customer experience (on a scale of upset to delighted). Gen Z was the most upset by their interactions with federal agencies (only 13% gave a positive rating), followed by investment firms and airlines. Gen Z gave the highest ratings to social media and retail stores.”
Gen Z consumers have grown up with social media and eCommerce, and they increasingly expect brands to cater to their specific needs, while they also know that they have both the means to publicly criticize a company due to negative interactions, and the capacity to easily switch, with a simple online search providing a range of competitor brands.
That’s increased their expectations around customer service and response, and it’s important for brands to consider this in their engagement and actions.
Younger consumers also value public health response, with Gen Z respondents twice as likely as Baby Boomers to stop purchasing from a brand because they felt their safety measures were insufficient. Which also works the opposite way too.
Gen Z consumers also put more emphasis on brand values – potentially a side effect of the social media era – with younger shoppers almost three times as likely as Baby Boomers to say that they were very familiar with the brand values of the products they choose.
With brands now able to communicate more about their business online, that’s opened up more capacity for consumers to also get an understanding of their stances and approach, and that expanded capability to connect with a brand on a deeper level can be a very powerful draw to generate stronger bonds and business.
Indeed, for Gen Z consumers, maintaining a social media presence was the second-highest ranked way for brands to maintain relevance. No other generation ranked social media presence in the top three.
If that insight doesn’t underline the importance of building and maintaining a social media presence, I’m not sure what will – younger consumers want to feel more connected with every business that they buy from, and social media is the key linkage that facilitates such for this group.
There’s a range of additional insights in the full report from Qualtrics, which you can check out here. Some key considerations for marketers, especially those looking to connect with younger audiences.
Instagram Adds New Stickers and AR Features to Celebrate Lunar New Year
Instagram has added some new features to help users celebrate Lunar New Year, including new, themed stickers and a custom AR effect.
As you can see here, the new stickers commemorate the Year of the Tiger, with art by Hong Kong-based Ophelia Pang. The stickers provide a simple way to mark the event, which will be celebrated from January 31st to February 15th.
In addition, Instagram’s also added a #MyLNY2022 AR effect, which provides another way to engage with the celebration.
There’s actually a range of Lunar New Year effects available in the app, which you can find by using the search option at the end of the effects carousel.
Instagram released a similar set of Lunar New Year tools last year, which is part of its broader focus on maximizing engagement around cultural events.
As explained by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri:
“When it comes to celebrating cultural moments, we want to be a platform where creators showcase their work.”
Showcasing creativity is where Instagram is increasingly looking to align itself, as it works to differentiate the app from TikTok, which is more based on communal expression and meme-based sharing. If Instagram can put more focus on creative output, specifically, that could be a way to lean into the rising Web3 movement, in which, theoretically, creators could be better rewarded and celebrated for their work.
These Lunar New Year tools showcase the art of some creators, but the larger vision for Instagram is that it may be better placed to provide a platform for more artists in the same way, which could help it regain its momentum in the face of the TikTok challenge.
You can check out Instagram’s Lunar New Year tools in the app.
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