Facebook’s latest ad is heartwarming, but may confuse the difference between privacy and security


Facebook continues to fight back against bad press from the Cambridge Analytica revelations. This time using television commercials.

In a new TV spot set to debut during the NBA playoffs on Wednesday evening, Facebook will show basketball fans its “Here Together” ad. The commercial reminds viewers why they joined Facebook in the first place, with lines like, “We came here for the friends.” The ad shows special moments like birthdays and relationship changes while also addressing privacy concerns.

Social Network-esque shots of Facebook are joined by the company’s brief explanation of the backlash. “But then something happened,” the ad says. “We had to deal with spam, click-bait, fake news and data misuse. That’s going to change. From now on, Facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy.” This, however, may not be entirely true.

To us, Facebook’s affirmation about user data not getting into the wrong hands sounds more like security than it does privacy. Protecting privacy would mean Facebook wouldn’t store users’ information to begin with.

Facebook came under fire for handing over Cambridge Analytica a vast amount of access to users’ information. This was not a data breach, Facebook clarified in a post, saying “everyone involved gave their consent.” Those who took Cambridge Analytica’s quiz app not only handed over their profile data but their friends’ data to the company as well. In 2015, Facebook made changes so friends couldn’t sell out those they’re connected with in this way. Additionally, in April the company updated the amount of access non-Facebook apps have to your Facebook data.

While Facebook may be taking overdue steps to keep user data out of the hands of third-party apps, the company has yet to address measures to collect less data about its users. Furthermore, the company hasn’t addressed changes to its business model — while Facebook doesn’t sell its users’ data, what it knows about its users closely relates to the amount of money it makes from advertisers. The company made $40 billion in revenue in 2017 alone.

Facebook’s “Here Together” ad could be the first of many steps the company takes to win users back. The company has another chance to get the word out about the service’s positives in its earnings call with the press on Wednesday as well as its upcoming F8 2018 developer conference May 1 to May 2.