Whatever happened to employee privacy?

20 | If you have a social media account or a cell phone or an internet connection, then you have no privacy. I’m pretty sure you can agree with me there. Do a search on Duck Duck Go or some other search engine for “Facebook scandal,” “cell phone privacy scandal,” or “data hacked” and you will no doubt agree with me.  But have you ever considered your lack of privacy in the workplace? I’m going to share with you three stories and I want you to figure out whether or not they are true or false. Tune in to see if you can guess how far companies will go for the sake of efficiency.


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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy.  He now serves ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

If you have a social media account or a cell phone or an internet connection, then you have no privacy. I’m pretty sure you can agree with me there. Do a search on Duck Duck Go or some other search engine for “Facebook scandal,” “cell phone privacy scandal,” or “data hacked” and you will no doubt agree with me. But have you ever considered your lack of privacy in the workplace? I’m going to share with you three stories and I want you to figure out whether or not they are true or false. The first story begins after this special message…

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A certain man is interviewing for a job for a rather progressive company. How progressive are they? Rather than relying solely on resumes, they use a complex algorithm to scan a candidate’s social media accounts in order to discern their personality and cultural fit. Is this true or false?

This is true. Listen to a quote from The Wall Street Journal.

Nearly all Fortune 500 companies now use some form of automation — from robot avatars interviewing job candidates to computers weeding out potential employees by scanning keywords in resumes. And more and more companies are using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to assess possible employees. DeepSense, based in San Francisco and India, helps hiring managers scan people’s social media accounts to surface underlying personality traits. The company says it uses a scientifically based personality test, and it can be done with or without a potential candidate’s knowledge. The practice is part of a general trend of some hiring companies to move away from assessing candidates based on their resumes and skills, towards making hiring decisions based on people’s personalities.

Story #2

A factory worker wears a helmet for safety reasons but, the helmet does more than protect the head from physical injury. It reads the brainwaves of the worker for changes in their mood and informs management of whether or not that worker should take a break, be reassigned or fired. Is this true or false?

This is true. Listen to this quote from the South China Morning Post.

On the surface, the production lines at Hangzhou (Hang-Joe) Zhongheng (joe-hung) Electric look like any other. Workers outfitted in uniforms, staff lines producing sophisticated equipment for telecommunication and other industrial sectors. But there’s one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company. The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of the workers by manipulating the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress.

Hangzhou (Hang-Joe) Zhongheng (joe-hung) Electric is just one example of the large-scale application of brain surveillance devices to monitor people’s emotions and other mental activities in the workplace, according to scientists and companies involved in the government-backed projects. Concealed in regular safety helmets or uniform hats, these lightweight, wireless sensors constantly monitor the wearer’s brainwaves and stream the data to computers that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect emotional spikes such as depression, anxiety or rage.

Story #3

Amazon is a master of efficiency. So much so, they recently patented a pair of Googles that will help its workers maneuver through their gigantic warehouses. If you were wearing these goggles, not only would you be more efficient, but the company would be able to monitor your every step. Is this true or false?

This is true. Listen to this quote from The Telegraph.

Amazon has sparked privacy concerns after filing a patent for augmented reality goggles that track the movement of warehouse workers. According to the patent, the e-commerce giant is interested in developing augmented reality goggles that workers could use to navigate through Amazon’s gigantic warehouses, guiding them to the right location. The patent, which was filed last year but made public on Thursday by the US Patents and Trademark Office, would mean the company could send orders to workers through visual cues. “In some embodiments […] the wearable computing device can be configured to provide worker instructions and/or visual indicators to a worker wearing the wearable computing device who is not moving or navigating through a fulfilment centre.” However, the patent application also states that the device could detect where a person is at all times and when they have stopped moving.

I suppose on some level; we are used to the idea of companies monitoring our emails and web activity; but what about those enterprises that seem to go the extra mile? How far is too far, when it comes to companies monitoring you? How concerned are you about your privacy at the office? No, really, I want to know. Leave me a comment? I want to know your point of view.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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Who will win the Minimum Wage Fight for 15?

18 | The Fight for 15 is an American political movement advocating for the federal minimum wage to be raised to $15 per hour. The federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour in 2009, and as of 2019 it has not been increased since. The movement has involved strikes by workers in child care, home healthcare, airport, gas station, convenience stores but most notably with fast food workers. What will happen if or when $15 is the minimum wage for all of the United States?  I speculate the national and global consequences in this episode of The Jim Stroud podcast.


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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy.  He now serves ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The Fight for 15 is an American political movement advocating for the federal minimum wage to be raised to $15 per hour. The federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour in 2009, and as of 2019 it has not been increased since. The movement has involved strikes by workers in child care, home healthcare, airport, gas station, convenience stores but most notably with fast food workers.

The movement has seen some success on the state and local level. California, Massachusetts, and New York are currently in the process of raising their state minimum wage to $15 per hour and major cities such as San Francisco, New York City and Seattle, where the cost of living is significantly higher, have already raised their municipal minimum wage to $15 per hour with some exceptions.

What will happen if or when $15 is the minimum wage for all of the United States?  I speculate the national and global consequences after this special message.

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The fight for a $15 minimum wage has been argued over and over and over by people who support and oppose the idea. These are the points I tend to hear, both pro and con.

If you are for a $15 minimum wage then, you are likely thinking that minimum wage workers will have more spending power which means increased sales for businesses resulting in more workers being needed. There would be less stress on social programs because people will be able to better take care of themselves. And since people would be earning more money, there would be less employee turnover thus, saving companies money from lost productivity due to vacant openings.

If you are against the $15 minimum wage, its likely because you, as a business owner, believe you cannot afford the raise in salary and must layoff workers to compensate. Plus, the increased salaries will have to be compensated for in some way, likely you will have to raise your prices and outsource some of your jobs to countries where people are willing to accept a lower pay rate. I also imagine that competition for jobs will intensify exponentially as overly qualified individuals pursue jobs that younger workers typically pursue. And when that happens, younger workers won’t have the experience needed to build their resumes.

The minimum wage debate is only going to increase in light of the fast approaching 2020 presidential election. Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has been pressuring McDonald’s to raise their minimum wage to $15 via an open letter to the CEO of McDonalds – Steve Easterbrook and a tweet which (in part), says this, “If Amazon and Disney can pay $15 an hour, so can McDonald’s, which made $5.1 billion in profits last year.”  Some people agree with Bernie Sanders. I speculate, many businesses do not.

I was in London recently and I saw something I had never seen before, inside McDonalds was a kiosk that allowed you to place your order and pay for your food. I looked at the counter where I presumed the cashier would be. There were several workers handing out food and such and some were taking orders but, I had to wonder. How many less workers were needed once these kisoks were introduced?  I did a bit of research after witnessing this and found out that McDonalds was adding these self-order and pay kiosks to 1,000 stores per quarter; not to mention their  mobile app that let you place orders with your cell phone. Very, very clever.

Now, I don’t speak for McDonalds, so I can only guess that these kiosks are McDonalds rebuttal to the “Fight for 15” movement. In other words, McDonald’s says sure, we will pay a $15 minimum wage if required but thanks to automation negating cashier jobs, that $15 an hour salary will go out to fewer workers.

So, on one hand, it looks like McDonald’s wins by employing fewer people while at the same time reaping higher profits. Right? Well, not necessarily. What happens when your customers don’t agree with your policy and protest it or, worse yet, show their discontent by shopping elsewhere? Consider this… Quite recently, Walmart announced that it was getting rid of greeters (many of whom are disabled) and would replace them with “Customer Hosts.” The plan was to go in effect at 1,000 of their stores. Shortly thereafter, there was a BIG backlash from its customers. So much so, Walmart backpedaled on their policy. Listen to this report from CBS Pittsburgh.

And here is something else to consider… Amazon. Robert Charette, a risk consultant to financial organizations made a very astute observation. Here’s a quote from 2017 that is still ringing true today…

Amazon is a leading indicator of what may come for service industries. In 2012, Amazon purchased Kiva Systems, a maker of warehouse robots, for US $775 million. The company began deploying the 320-pound, 16-inch-tall robots to its warehouses in early 2014, with some 10,000 of them operational by the end of 2014. Analysts estimatedthen that each robot replaces 1.5 full-time-equivalent human beings. Over the past two years, Amazon has added another 30,000 Kiva robots to its warehouses, as well as increased the productivity of its warehouse activities through additional automation initiatives, which allowed it to ship over 1 billion items between 1 November and 19 December 2016. While it may still be some years away, nearly completely automated Amazon (and other companies’) warehouses are seen as inevitable.

Clearly, Amazon’s automated warehouse efficiency has other consequences. It has enabled Amazon, through its online sales channel and ability to discount prices, to become the world’s eighth largest retailer(and largest online retailer). Amazon increasingly is taking market share away from traditional department stores, helping place companies like Sears, Kmart, and Macy’s, among many others, at risk. All three announced significant store closures and layoffs this past week, with Macy’s alone eliminating 10,000 jobs after disappointing holiday sales attributed to increased online sales competition. Macy’s management says it will take the savings from the layoffs and invest it into its online presence.

How many of those employees that Macy’s and other retail companies laid off will be able to find comparable work at the same salary is unknown. However, it is unlikely for very many, as few retailers that are under threat by Amazon and other online retailers are hiring permanent staff. Instead, like Macy’s, they are looking for ways to shed staff while they increase their online presence to combat Amazon and other e-commerce discounters. [END QUOTE]

And now, 3 predictions…

  1. Technology will persevere, and progress will be made, as it always has, since at least the 19th century when people protested the cotton gin and the steam engine as a threat to their way of life. But I think the transitional period will be bumpy, to say the least. As automation encroaches and younger, under-educated workers from the services sector become more and more frustrated, I think it is entirely possible to see another type of… Arab Spring but this time, on a much larger scale. Why? People losing jobs in America due to automation is one thing multiply that number by the countries we no longer need to outsource jobs too due to that same automation; and you have young angry displaced workers all over the globe, and roughly around the same time.
  2. Companies will begin to experience consumer rebellion. What do I mean by that? People will begin to make a more conscious effort to forgo automation whenever possible: for example, skipping right past the robot operator and demanding to speak to an actual human being when calling a company; not using the automated checkout lines in supermarkets and reducing reliance on ATM machines.
  3. There is a Made in America movement to support American businesses and the families that rely on them. I imagine that in the next decade, there will be a “Made by Human Hands” movement to support those businesses who refuse to fully automate their processes so they can put a human being to work.

But that’s just what I think will happen. I’m more interested in what you have to say.  Share your thoughts?

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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When will robots replace recruiters?

17 | I break away from my typical podcast format to chat with Katrina Collier, Candidate Engagement Specialist, world-renowned speaker and my friend. As only we can, we discuss robots replacing recruiters, 4-day work weeks and cellphone addiction during a very sunny London day. Tune in to hear all the fun! Want more of Katrina Collier? (And who could blame you?) Find her at: www.thesearchologist.com


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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy.  He now serves ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist.

Big Brother Goes Shopping

16 |  Did you know that when you shop, big brother is watching? Major retailers spend a lot of money on a lot of technology to attract your business and persuade you to spend more and more and more of your money. While that may not come as a surprise to you, the extent of how deeply retail technology tracks you may have you raising your eyebrows. In this episode, I share several case studies on how big data is being used to monitor your spending and persuade your buying habits. | Please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


Listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

Subscribe to this podcast via your favorite podcast platform!

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy.  He now serves ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Big Brother Goes Shopping

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Did you know that when you shop, big brother is watching? Major retailers spend a lot of money on a lot of technology to attract your business and persuade you to spend more and more and more of your money. While that may not come as a surprise to you, the extent of how deeply retail technology tracks you may have you raising your eyebrows. I’ll share with you several case studies on how big data is used to monitor your spending and persuade your buying habits, right after this special message.

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When you become a preferred customer, join a loyalty program, use coupons or visit a store; you are generating data that is being tracked and monitored; all in order to enhance your shopping experience. Here are some examples of how all that data is being used, according to Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital.

Okay, 5 case studies

  1. A California fruit packing company warned Costco about the possibility of listeria contamination in its store fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines). Rather than send out a blanket warning to everyone who shopped at Costco recently, Costco was able to notify the specific customers that purchased those particular items. It first notified them by phone and followed up with a letter. Costco has been collecting reams and reams of user data even before big data was a marketing buzzword. They were able to help the Centers for Disease Control pinpoint the source of a salmonella outbreak back in 2010.
  2. Using data about women’s shopping habits, Target was able to identify that women buying large quantities of unscented lotion, cotton balls, supplements and washcloths might mean that those women are anywhere from a few weeks pregnant, to very close to their due date. In one case, a teen was suddenly getting mailers from Target promoting cribs and bibsbefore she had even told her father about the pregnancy. Oops!
  3. The Weather channel monitors the weather’s impact on viewers’ emotions. These predictive weather analytics look at trends based on location, and guide advertisers on how and when to deliver their message to help spur action. One such example was the partnership between Pantene, Walgreens and the Weather Channel. Using data collected by the Weather Channel, Pantene and Walgreens were able to anticipate when humidity in the air would be at its highest, prompting women to seek out a product at their local drugstore to prevent frizz and flyaway hair. This was branded as a “haircast” and lead to a 10% increase in sales of Pantene at Walgreens for the months of July and August, along with a 4% sales lift across the entire hair care category at Walgreens.
  4. Another example involving the Weather Channel is of a local pizza chain getting a 20% response rate through the combination of a location-based text marketing campaign coupled with cold weather and the potential for power outages. If you can’t cook, why not order out?
  5. During the busiest flight seasons, tens of thousands of passengers can become stranded every day. By looking at big data correlating weather conditions and flight cancellations, plus the fact that many travellers would be browsing on mobile devices, Red Roof Inn’s marketing team did a promotional campaign targeting those areas most likely to be hit by flight cancellations due to inclement weather. This ended up generating a 10% increase in business in those areas.

These are all examples of big data in retail being used for good. However, there is a potential for it all being used for an unfair, creepy business advantage. Case in point, Target suffered a bit of embarrassment due to a Minneapolis news report from KARE 11, which found Target’s app changed its prices on certain items depending on if you are inside or outside of the store. Here’s a clip from that report.

I was fascinated by this story, so I read up on it and found a couple of quotes I wanted to share with you. Both are from the KARE 11 news website.

In an emailed statement from Target, the company said “The Target app shows in-store pricing while in store, and online pricing while on the go. If a guest finds any item for a lower price across any of the ways they can shop Target, we’ll price match it.”

And here’s the other one.

 University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management Marketing Professor George John believes there’s a little more going on than that. “That particular experiment reveals so many interesting facts about our retail environment,” said John. “Somebody at Target programmed in an algorithm which says someone who is 50 feet within the store is willing to pay more. The most reasonable explanation is that you just revealed your commitment to buying the product, you’re in the store, or in the parking lot. If you are further away, you haven’t quite committed, so I’m going to give you a juicier deal. That’s why the price went up when you got closer to the store.”

So, all that being said, is Target now evil? Are they using their big data powers to get a creepy unfair business advantage? I doubt it. I think its all a matter of unintended consequences. Someone in a lab was probably experimenting with ways to bring greater value to Target customers and this glitch happened. I’m inclined to believe that because I have yet to hear of a pattern of this type of behavior from Target. I’m also inclined to believe that there will be more unintended consequences from major retailers leveraging big data because big data is not going away; that is the world we live in. Get used to it.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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Music in this podcast

Facebook Is Not Your Friend

15 | 2018 was a banner year for data breaches and 2019 is already off to a great start. At the center of privacy scandals last year, was Facebook. It seemed like every other week there was a hacking issue or ethical misconduct around their user data. So, does this mean that Facebook usage is on the decline? In a word, no. Despite all the data drama, Facebook is doing all right. So, what does it all mean for user privacy on Facebook and other tech companies with millions of users? I discuss that and something far more concerning than hackers stealing your data, predictive analytics. Tune in to find out what I mean. | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Well, we are in the 2nd month of 2019 and already there have been a number of data breeches. Among them, a security flaw in the online video game – Fortnite, made its 200 million users worldwide vulnerable to such hacks as taking over a gamer’s account, purchasing game currency in the user’s name and eavesdropping on game chatter. If you do an online search for “data breaches in 2018,” no doubt you would discover a seemingly endless list of search results where users’ privacy and data had been hacked or exploited in some way. So, what does that mean for the bottom line of tech companies, especially those with millions and millions and millions of active users – like Facebook? Surprisingly, nothing much. I’ll explain after this message.

To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to JimStroud.com/free and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s JimStroud.com/free to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at JimStroud.com/free Operators are standing by.

In 2018, Facebook was the poster child for data breeches. It seemed like there was a data breech or privacy related scandal every week. Here are just a few of them, in no particular order.

  • Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, brought to light that Facebook advertising was used in Russian schemes; albeit to minimal effect on the election, some would say. Said Facebook ads violated the prohibition on foreign spending, as well as requirements mandating the disclosure of campaign spending. End result, 13 Russian indictments. Scandalous!
  • Facebook partnered with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung and gave them access to the friend’s of Facebook users without their explicit consent; even after Facebook had promised to stop. Scandalous!
  • A serious security flaw gave hackers access to 50 million Facebook accounts, allowing them to control those accounts. Uh oh! Here’s another whoops…
  • It was reported that third party developers were able to see the photos of 6.8 million Facebook users; even if those photos were marked private and not intended for public view. Yikes! And finally…
  • Internal documents, discovered by the NY Times, revealed that Facebook gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others far greater access to people’s data than it had publicly disclosed; effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules.

So, with all of that drama, and even more drama I did not mention (for the sake of time), you would think that Facebook was on the decline. But, not so. Facebook is doing alright. Here’s a quote from a recent CNBC article.

This week, Facebook pleased investors by reporting a strong quarter of earnings led by impressive statistics on user activity for the fourth quarter of 2018.

In light of the social network’s recent controversies, there were a few surprises in the figures: The number of monthly Facebook users was steady in the U.S., with spikes in the Asia-Pacific region. Perhaps most surprisingly, they also rose in the European Union — where the company has endured the brunt of criticism over privacy related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and uncertainty over General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

Facebook’s success in courting users so quickly could have far-reaching impact, as other tech companies seek to understand the true consumer appetite for personal privacy.

I have to admit. I was surprised and concerned. I know people like free. I can hear them say, “Free, free, free, is good to me.” Even if it means that there is a chance, a very good chance, that your information will be hacked, already has been hacked and/or will be used to some nefarious end. So, what’s the solution? Delete Facebook? Delete Instagram? Stop using WhatsApp? Hah! No, you’re not going to do that. You might consider using false personal information on social media. I mean, what will happen to you if you if you shave 5 years off your birthdate or mention that you live in a different zip code of your city? Probably nothing, but the reality of it all is, 15 minutes from now it won’t matter. Why? Two words. Predictive analytics. I’ll explain.

NBC News shed light on something recently that I think is a thousand times more alarming than a hacker stealing your data. As of now, Facebook doesn’t need your personal information to determine exactly who you are or what you’ll do next. Every time you watch a video, like something, leave a comment, interact with a webpage that has a Facebook like button or, engage with an app that is in partnership with Facebook, Facebook is building a profile of you; but it doesn’t stop there. Facebook looks at the behavior of other users who are similar to you in terms of online behavior, demographics and merges your data with the collected data of others who act like you online. With that information they build a virtual version of you, then test that virtual version of you in a number of ways. How would this virtual version of you react to this video, react to this article, react to this photograph or, react to this political message?

Now, wrap your mind around this. Facebook’s mastery of data enables it to produce results much more powerful than traditional advertising. Here’ a quote from NBC NEWS…

… Facebook offers the chance to pay not just for a certain audience size, but an actual business outcome, like a sale, an app download, or a newsletter subscription. Once upon a time advertisers paid a “CPM” — cost per thousand views — for a marketing campaign. That was just the chance to get in front of people. Now Facebook offers a rate based on “CPA,” or “cost per action,” a once-unimaginable metric offered because the company is so confident in its understanding of people and their preferences that Facebook can essentially guarantee a certain number of people will do certain things.

Remember when I told you how Facebook takes your data, combines it with other people’s data in order to build a virtual version of you? Well, Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology was interviewed in that same NBC News article I quoted earlier and in regard to the virtual version of you I was describing, he said this…

With 2.3 billion users, “Facebook has one of these models for one out of every four humans on earth. Every country, culture, behavior type, socio-economic background,” said Raskin. With those models, and endless simulations, the company can predict your interests and intentions before you even know them.

So, its that creepy? Does it feel weird to know that Facebook can reliably predict your reaction to an advertisement based on your past online actions and the collected data of users like you? Is this enough to make you want to get off Facebook? For some of you, yes. But for the majority, no. And that makes me very afraid for the future.

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