It’s Not Just Cyberstalkers Who Are Stalking You

They know where you’ve been, with whom, what you did. They know everything. Who are they? From hackers and cyber-criminals to the government and advertisers; they are the ones tracking your digital footprint. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has proved that every move you have made online, knowingly and unknowingly, is data for them.

For those of you who may have been living under a rock, Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, through a loophole was able to access the information of more than 87 million users. This information they then used to create voter profiles that they sold to political campaigns. Christopher Wylie is the one who brought the story to light. Another whistleblower whose story created ripples in the media was Edward Snowden. Both whistleblowers released stories that proved the threat was real, data privacy was no longer secure. Was it ever though?

Where does all this data go? What do they do with it?

When you think you’re just taking a personality quiz or accessing an organizational app, you’re actually feeding their databases. You are, in fact, giving countless apps access to your location, your addresses, your galleries, contacts and so much more! And where does all this data go? What do they do with it?

They use it for customer analysis, to figure out what you like and what you want, to understand the profit you deliver to them through your purchases. They use it to expand their businesses, to enhance their chances of success.

Of course, most of us have some clue as to what we’re doing when we give them access to our data. But do we know the extent of dissection it goes through after it is delivered to them? Or in how many different channels it is used? Do we even think about it for more than a second after allowing them this privilege? Because it is a privilege, or it was until the last decade or so.

We’ve integrated technology into our lives so seamlessly, we find it hard to function without it. Even when it’s invading our privacy.

The technological advancements we’ve seen over the past few decades is simply humongous. Combine it with the development of the internet and the impact of globalization, you can see how we’ve been racing towards the rise of the digital era. Machine learning, Electronics & IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), Robotics, Cloud and Data management, all of these are features of the digital landscape we exist in. We’ve integrated technology into our lives so seamlessly, we find it hard to function without it. Even when it’s invading our privacy.

How then do we protect our privacy? You could start by using a personal VPN, installing an antivirus software, and reading terms and conditions when you install a new app or create an account online. Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers but you can read five tips on how to safeguard yourself on Facebook here.

What does the Cambridge Analytica scandal mean for Marketers?

With digital marketing on the rise, the infamy that is now associated with data doesn’t bode well for the digital marketing community. A majority of the consumers were ignorant of the extent to which the consumer mind has been dissected and mapped out. However, at this point, they’ll certainly begin to question the ethics of marketing as well. This, in turn, will generate a lack of trust that could lead to a loss of confidence in brands and advertisements. And we all know brands are only as important as their consumers want them to be. Could the talk of the death of data privacy disrupt marketing advancements? Will we have to organize a council like ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) to protect the data privacy of consumers? Could Neuromarketing and Behavioural Design meet its end before it was even able to reach the pinnacle of its potential?

What can Marketers do to ensure consumers don’t lose faith in brands?
  1. Be upfront!

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is largely caused due to the fact that the users were not aware that they were being psychologically profiled for political campaigns. If the consumers were informed, or given an option through a survey perhaps, and then volunteered to provide this information, this would perhaps never have become an issue. Sanctioned obtainment of data through surveys, feedbacks, ratings are acceptable and have been done for decades as part of marketing research. For example, Vodafone informs the customers when they’re recording calls for training and quality purpose.

2. What is done with the data?

Consumers also have a right to know how much the data they provide is examined and how that translates into marketing strategies. Marketers should be open about the tools they use to scrutinize data and what they understand from it.

3. How much is too much?

It’s important for the marketing community to ask themselves these questions every time they analyze data. How much of this information do we really need to know? There’s a fine line between research and investigation and it’s time we acknowledge it.

Let us know what you think in the comments!







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