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Bob Pike of SITEFORUM examines the implications of the EU's enforcement of the 'right to be forgotten online'.
The news of The European Union enforcing the 'right to be forgotten online' is sure to have a negative impact on Facebook’s business model; without advertising fuelled by user data, there would be no Facebook.
I think the change will encourage the social networking giant to develop other tactics that will keep customers parting with their data. But, what will it take to make consumers happy to have their data shared everywhere, and at the disposal of everyone?
The problem many consumers face is that the whole point of the internet is to make everything more accessible, everything can be done quicker, and people have come to expect an ability to buy something at the click of a button.
The point is, if a page is thrown up between the customer and their purchase, they will hand over their personal details without a seconds thought so they can complete their purchase quickly. People give out their personal details at the drop of a hat, particularly if there is a complicated process associated with keeping information private.
The EU legislation will call for privacy settings to be easier to understand in the set up of profiles, to make the user aware from the word go. Google makes approximately 95% of its revenue through advertising; it stores every search you have ever made from your PC, builds up a consumer profile and passes that information to third party advertisers. The difference in Google’s approach is that it has been upfront in that the way it makes its money, is through customer data and behaviour generated through searches.
On the other hand, Facebook is less transparent, packaging itself as a place for people to share pictures and updates to their closest friends and families. The changes proposed by the EU will surely change the way Facebook is pitched to consumers, making people more aware of the reason for its existence. Whilst I don’t suspect this would turn a significant amount of people off using the site, I do think it will become a less attractive prospect for advertisers.
It also doesn’t mean that consumers should become more relaxed about who they share their data with and where they input sensitive information online. It seems that some people don’t understand just how prolific the spread of their personal data can be, and how easy it is for third parties to get hold of information that could put their security at risk; regardless of whether or not they will have the right to delete it in future.
Whilst the new legislation will be welcomed by many, there will still be plenty of people in Europe that either don’t realise their data is available online, or that simply don’t care. It’s relatively easy to put a law in place that gives people the right to delete their information online and stop businesses from being able to use it, but it’s up to the consumer to take action. Ultimately I would like to see the tools being made available to consumers so that they can take back ownership and manage their online presence directly.
Bob Pike is the COO of SITEFORUM.