“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

– Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook has outlined a new privacy policy which means BIG changes to Facebook advertising due to the ‘Cambridge Analytica scandal’, in which Facebook data was being mined by the company in 2013 & 2014. How was this done? Many news reports are calling this a data ‘breach’, however Cambridge Analytica got this data willingly by people using a ‘quiz’ app whilst signed into their Facebook accounts. This allowed Cambridge Analytica to access not only their data, but their friend’s data as well. This data was then used for political purposes.

Due to this ‘data breach’, there has been a few important changes to Facebook ads. Below we have discussed each change in more detail.

New chatbots have been disabled

A Chatbot is a Facebook Page that sends out messages and responds to users automatically. Many businesses use these ChatBots to level up their marketing, sales & support via Facebook messenger. In Facebooks new privacy policy, businesses are currently unable to connect/reconnect bots to Messenger in an effort to guarantee the best user experience possible. For existing users, it is business as usual, however new bots cannot be connected until Facebook updates their privacy policy again.

Customer Audience numbers have been disabled

Facebook announced they will stop showing audience reach estimates for Custom Audiences after a vulnerability was found.

Custom Audience estimates contain a rounding threshold. A research team from Northeastern University found that once advertisers identified this threshold, they could upload a list of emails right to this point. By adding one email to the list, if the estimate changes when a targeting attribute is selected, the advertiser can conclude that person has that attribute, or vice versa if it does not change. Due to this vulnerability, Facebook has disabled the Customer Audience reach estimate to protect its users.

Facebook is also launching a certification tool that demands that marketers guarantee email addresses used for ad targeting were rightfully attained. This new Custom Audiences certification tool was described by Facebook representatives to their marketing clients, according to two sources. Facebook will also prevent the sharing of Custom Audience data across Business accounts.

Removed access to 3rd party data partners.

Facebook also announced they will be shutting down Partner Categories, which removes access to 3rd party data partners.  Partner Categories are based on information provided by Facebook Marketing Partners, which allows you to further refine your targeting based on information compiled by these partners, such as offline demographic and behavioural information like homeownership or purchase history. Removing Partner Categories will help protect & improve people’s privacy on Facebook.

In addition to the above changes, Facebook is removing the option to search for users by entering a phone number or an email address after it was found that this information was being used to scrape public profile information.

These changes may be a step in the right direction in protecting their users, they still have a long way to go to show they’re committed to restoring their trust.