Facebook Launches Privacy Campaign for Ambiguous Reasons

Facebook has partnered with the National Association of Attorneys General to launch an online privacy campaign geared at teenagers. According to press releases on both Facebook’s and the NAAG’s media rooms, Facebook will be releasing tools to teach about privacy on its social network along with guidelines that can be applied throughout the Internet.

The campaign will be operating out of the Facebook Safety Page and include videos about privacy and state-specific PSAs. The page also has their Stop Bullying Speak Up app where users can share photos with friends to spread the anti-bullying message.

The actual tips are pretty basic. In their PDF of 10 tips to keep information private, Facebook offers such groundbreaking tactics such as only sharing statuses with friends or tagging locations carefully. Think before you post.

facebook1So what’s in it for Facebook?

Dan Ritter of Wall Street Cheat Sheet broke down Facebook’s logic behind this strategic partnership:

Broadly, this philosophy seems to be the result of two things: a well-meaning (though profit-driven) corporate culture, and vigilant regulatory watchdogs.

Ritter is alluding to Facebook’s battle with the FTC, which ended last August with mandates that the site should ask permission before taking personal information and explicitly state what they’re going to do with it. The case was brought up when Facebook claimed user information was private, then took it anyway.  In a way, this campaign shows the government how much Facebook cares about user privacy – enough to make fun little infographics and brightly colored apps.

bullying1Is there a marketing benefit to this?

Facebook is encouraging parents and teens to work together to set up their privacy settings. When parents consider Facebook a safe site, teens will spend more time there – and be able to see more ads. Plus, teens can provide word of mouth advertising to parents by showing them everything the site can do, thus building the older demographic. Of course, this is all based on the assumption that teens are open with their parents about their online presence… yeah right.

While Facebook’s motives in this partnership might not be entirely altruistic, there’s no doubt that something needs to be done to rein in the rampart bullying that happens on the site. According to a study by Know the Net, 87% of people who have been bullied online were bullied on Facebook. For a point of reference, the social network with the second highest percentage of bullying was Twitter, with only 19% of respondents getting trolled there.

Facebook doesn’t have to end bullying, but they do have to follow FTC guidelines. This campaign isn’t meant to help victims of cyber-harassment, it’s meant to cover their tails and show how many tools they have to review their privacy settings. Rather than teaching people not to attack fellow human beings, Facebook is telling users how they can hide their activity. The question remains, are we hiding our activity from bullies and trolls, or from Mark Zuckerberg and his servers?

About the author

Amanda Dodge