News breaking this week that political data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed private data on Facebook has sent the popular social media company into a spiral with its stock price plunging and the hashtag #DeleteFacebook going viral.
As the company grapples with its future, a Florida State University faculty member is available to comment on the challenges facing Facebook and how they differ from other companies’ data breaches.
Luke Hopkins, co-director, Center for Retail Innovation
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Hopkins is assistant department chair for the Department of Marketing in the FSU College of Business and co-director of the Center for Retail Innovation. His research interests focus on the management of customer relationships, particularly in situations that involve delivering bad news to the customer.
“From a branding perspective, Facebook might end up the sacrificial lamb of the big data world. This specific situation is different from the data handling issues experienced by Equifax in 2017 and Target in 2013. Specifically, Facebook’s current problem stems from allowing other companies to unethically collect data, as opposed to mishandling data collected internally. Second, we live in a world that is driven by data and predictive capabilities. If consumers knew half of what retailers such as Target, Amazon and Walmart know about the average customer, this Facebook issue would likely be lost in the shuffle.
What could ultimately harm the Facebook brand is that Facebook was aware of the trust violation and verified this by contacting Cambridge Analytica requesting the deletion of data. Additionally, because the data was linked to a controversial political outcome, the data collected by Cambridge Analytica had an impact on everyone, not just those who have an account with Facebook. Had Cambridge Analytica used the information to offer you discounted milk at your local grocery store, we would be reading different headlines today.”