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  • Facebook Inc. Redefining User Privacy At A Crucial Time 0 comments
    Jul 3, 2014 8:59 AM | about stocks: FB

    Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), toward the end of May, announced that it would restrict third party apps from automatically posting on users' behalf, signaling a bold step in its greater drive to redefine user privacy. According to the announcement, which appeared in its newsroom, the social networking site said that it would give priority to stories that were expressly shared by users over stories that were automatically posted by third party apps.

    While Facebook isn't entirely sidelining third party app developers, it is taking away their power to decide what is published and what isn't published on the user's News Feed and handing this power down to the user.

    Responding to the Snowden Effect

    Facebook's greater emphasis on privacy is timely. Internet users today have become growingly aware of the varying assessments ascribed to them due to user generated content, which is loosely defined as content that unpaid contributors provide to websites; for instance, comments on blog posts, tweets and posts on Facebook. While user generated content has allowed the web to grow in leaps and bounds, it comes at the great risk of privacy, particularly following the revelations of heavy government spying disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    Although Snowden as a person is ineluctably inseparable from the raging debate of whether he is a disloyal creep deserving of persecution or, in contrast, a symbol of courage, the effects of his revelations, popularly known as the Snowden Effect, have had a clear and unmistakable effect; more publications from different journalists and whistleblowers on government and organizational surveillance have surfaced at the wake of his initial revelations.

    People are now aware of the heavy surveillance being undertaken by governments and organizations, and to that extent, very careful of the kind of user generated content, such as posts on Facebook, that can be directly or indirectly traced back to them. This explains why Facebook is actively restricting third party apps from posting automatically on behalf of users, and instead, giving users the absolute power to consciously choose what content to post and what not to post.

    Long-Term Benefit

    In the short-term, Facebook's move to reduce the liberties that third party apps may have a momentary negative effect on interest from third party app developers. Notwithstanding, Facebook has taken steps to ensure that despite the changes, third party app developers and the brands that they work for still remain a critical part of its overall service suite. The social media giant is increasing the tools that developers will be able to use on its mobile platform, according to Peter Yang of Facebook's product marketing team, as cited on ValueWalk.

    In the long run, Facebook's decision to step up users' control over user generated content that can be traced back to them will not only increase users' trust, but also thrust it into a position to collect data that users willingly and consciously generate. This will greatly strengthen its ad targeting efforts by increasing the accuracy and relevance of its ads, allowing it to get higher click through rates and growing its revenues.

    Stocks: FB
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