Vulnerable identities

The concern around data privacy is bigger than your Facebook woes
Data privacy, Facebook data privacy, Facebook, Social Media, CYBERSECURITY, Responsibility, Online behaviour
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Did you delete your Facebook account recently after the internet got buzzing with Cambridge Analytica stories and #DeleteFacebook became a trending topic? Well, before you ask me the question, let me declare- No, I didn’t delete my account on Facebook yet. Do I plan to? I don’t think so. But, yes, the whole fiasco has definitely brought to the fore few very important questions that both the public as well as companies conveniently miss to focus on. Personally speaking, this has made me ponder on two aspects. How private or exposed are we in this digital era and is there actually a plausible alternative in sight? The second thing that strikes me is the fragility of brand image in today’s age.

As far as the question of privacy is concerned, yes, I do agree we have the right to privacy for our personal information. But that being said, the responsibility for the same isn’t entirely limited to Facebook, or any other platform wherein we provide our data. Users are also accountable for this, especially when they are given the option to say yes or no to allowing their personal details from a network to be used.

The concern around online data privacy is not exactly a new revelation. Lots have been said, written and discussed about how nothing comes for free, and if a service is apparently free, we are possibly paying for the same in an indirect fashion. And when both the parties are being benefited by the information exchange model, the aspect of online privacy should be the responsibility for both too.

Consumers need to be selective and decisive about the information they are okay to share on a platform, while platforms like Facebook and others need to make sure they maintain transparency around what data is being shared with third party providers. Tim Cook had once remarked that no one should have to decide between privacy and security. We should be smart enough to have both.

Similarly, with the kind of innovation technology enables, I think we shouldn’t have to make a compromise between convenience and security. Platform providers need to work out a solution so that consumers can sign into third party apps without the risk of letting go of all their personal information they have shared somewhere else. Till that happens, it’s a trade-off.

The other big lesson out of the Facebook controversy is that the world isn’t very kind to the ones making mistakes- no matter how big or small the culprit is. We have had multiple instances when big companies lost out when they got caught up in issues around distrust and the likes. What initially didn’t look like big mistakes have cost brands heavily over time, be it in the form of reduced market dominance, decreased consumer trust, or slower pace of innovation.

Is this the end of Facebook? Well, it might be a bit early to comment on the exact repercussions however one can’t deny the obvious impact of the negative publicity and consumer distrust. Such scenarios reiterate the importance of building and consistently growing a positive brand image. ‘Customer is king’ shouldn’t just be a theoretical statement; rather it needs to percolate across the entire corporate fabric of companies.

This is something the telcos as well as all ICT companies need to keep in mind as they march ahead on the route of digital transformation. Always make sure the customers are happy, transparency is maintained, and innovation is facilitated. Another important topic to work on is crisis management- let’s discuss that in the next edition. Till then, be smart, and stay safe.

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