Last week, Facebook—and their ads—were in the news nonstop. In a Congressional hearing, Senator Hatch of Utah asked Mark Zuckerberg, “How do you sustain a business model in which users do not pay for your service?” He simply replied, “Senator, we run ads.” As marketers, we may think we know what this means, but do we really know?

Marketers, like you and me, know that Facebook’s massive data breach is going to affect marketing because we’ve been benefitting from the data Facebook collects about the public for longer than the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But do we, as marketers, truly understand what Facebook actually knows? Do we know how much they know and how exactly that data is captured?

The advertising we see on Facebook is targeted to us in very specific ways: based on our informational and pastime posts that we unsuspectingly upload to Facebook, along with advertisers with which we’ve interacted. Facebook admits they collect all of this data and then pass it onto advertisers in aggregate reports.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out the various pieces of data that Facebook uses to decide which ads to serve you, revealing just how vulnerable you are. Log into your personal Facebook page and click on: Settings > Ads > Your Information > Your Categories. You may be surprised to learn that Facebook is using your personal information. Your relationship status, employer, the brands you like, and even whether or not you live outside of your hometown is all information that Facebook uses to target you with ads. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even as a marketer, I’m surprised at the personal assessment they’ve deduced, which leaves me feeling a little bit violated.

In the most recent data breach, Facebook accessed the personal data of 87 million people. The political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, enticed 270,000 people to log onto “This Is Your Digital Life” app, each using their personal Facebook account to take a personality quiz. The app then kept their data (and the data of their friends) and sold it to Cambridge Analytica who used it to target people with political ads. Facebook users felt they did not give consent for this firm to hold onto their data or for Facebook to release to this firm in the first place. And now a lot of people feel a little bit violated.

With 2 billion users, Facebook probably isn’t going away anytime soon, but in this age of extreme transparency, people are angry because Facebook wasn’t upfront with what firms could do with their data. Facebook apologized and Mark Zuckerberg sat in front of Senators and Congressman and promised to do better. They agreed to be more transparent and are now actually showing their users where they can find all of the data Facebook has collected on them.

But is that enough for Millennials and Gen Z? And what does this mean for brands who make significant spends on Facebook? The latest Harvard University Institute of Politics survey of people aged 18-29 years finds that nearly a quarter of Millennials don’t even trust Facebook. In the survey, just 4 percent of the Millennials and post-Millennials said they trust Facebook “all the time.” Some 22 percent said they trust it “most of the time” and we know the numbers get even worse with Gen Z.

So where does that leave brands? Especially the small ones who need to make a big impact with a small budget?

We’d love to help you figure that out.

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