Ashley Smith-Hammond

Facebook users will no longer be able to search for other users using their email address or phone number. How could this impact the way arts marketers do their job on the social platform?

Into the Facebook frAY

You will almost certainly be aware of the media coverage around Facebook privacy issues in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica. But if you’re an arts marketer, you may be wondering: what will this mean for how I do my job?

The start of April saw Facebook move quickly to lock down some of the data sharing that had been available to developers through both API access and to users through the standard Facebook interface. The company published a blog on 4 April laying out the key changes with specific information for developers and a high level table of which countries were most affected by the Cambridge Analytica privacy breach.

Paying Ad-Tention

One small development in this mix that caught my eye is that Facebook users will no longer be able to search for other users using their email address or phone number. If you’re concerned that this might mean that you will no longer be able to do ad targeting using email addresses, then set your mind at ease. The custom audiences feature that allows your organisation to reach out to social media users in your contacts list is still available.

Facebook’s statement makes it clear that the new privacy restriction, which was effective immediately, is for users of the site itself, not users of the API. It’s a feature that helps zero in on people you know, especially those with common or complex names. Unfortunately, according to Facebook: “malicious actors have also abused these features to scrape public profile information by submitting phone numbers or email addresses they already have through search and account recovery. Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way. So we have now disabled this feature.”

If you’re a Facebook user yourself, then this might give you cause for concern. But from a practical perspective, when it comes to your marketing activities using emails to target ads, carry on.

Need more help responding to the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal? Get in touch.

Main image credit: facebook by Md saad andalib (CC BY 2.0)