This week, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg headed to Capitol Hill to testify before a couple of congressional committees to answer questions regarding the fundamental business model of Facebook, how it collects data on users, and what it does with that data. If nothing else, it became clear that many of these congressmen and women had some serious false impressions about how Facebook works. It’s likely that their constituents, too, also had some fundamental misunderstanding, and in this regard his testimony served to clear up some questions many Americans might have about exactly what is happening with their data.
In his testimony, Mr. Zuckerberg worked hard to clearly articulate a couple of key points. First, that Facebook has worked hard and continues to work hard at having transparency govern everything they do. Users always have control of how their data is used, and Facebook continues to make these choices as easy to understand and as easy to opt-in or opt-out of as possible.
The second point he stressed is that Facebook does not sell user data. Period. Facebook’s advertising platform simply puts advertisers in touch with the demographics that they’d like to target, and then Facebook does the targeting for them. No user data is passed on to the third-party advertisers.
And it was in clarifying this point that Mr. Zuckerberg took the opportunity to explain the real value of Facebook. Because of Facebook’s ability to target so precisely and with such granularity, small businesses now have an opportunity they could never have afforded in the past. Small and medium-sized businesses can now put their message in front of potential clients and customers without spending a fortune. Under old, traditional advertising models, a business would have to pay a small fortune to cast a huge net and hope that their message would resound with at least a few people in that net. Not so with Facebook and other social media platforms, and it’s a real game-changer for small and medium-sized businesses.
At Vertz Marketing, we’ve been working on the Facebook platform since its very inception. We know, firsthand, how valuable a tool it is for small and medium-sized businesses. We’re glad Mr. Zuckerberg was able to testify to clear up a few misunderstandings, and we hope the good men and women who run small and medium-sized businesses all over this country use the great opportunity that social media provides to continue to grow their businesses.