Friday, October 5, 2012

The Social Key

The article, links up with Facebook for targeted ad delivery talks about how is now providing marketers with pools of prospective customers,"they may already have a connection with on Facebook," though indirectly.  Beyond this also unveiled the a new tool they are calling "the Social Key" which will be able to avoid Facebook's "customer privacy" and provide marketers with access to, "a prospect's interests, likes and dislikes" so that they can better market their product.

In my opinion, this is a complete breach of privacy.  Now, I do not have a Facebook, but I feel vulnerable with this Social Key.  If companies are able to gain access to the likes and dislikes of people on Facebook then regardless of their privacy settings, then where does it go from here.  Could not companies start tracking the websites I go on in the near future and then send me spam mail to buy their product based on my computer's ISBN#?  This is just another step in the direction of breaking down individual privacy as companies play one big video game trying to press all the right buttons to win the prize and get our money.  If I knew the individual likes and dislikes of a customer, just as users would with the Social Key, I would market my product differently to each of these customers to try and entice their purchase.  I might stretch the truth of the capabilities or uses of my product if I knew exactly what that customer wanted or got excited about. is a company that provides a customer relationship management product which essentially connects producers with consumers.  With the Social Key they are just trying to give their customers the best product that they can, and a key to the Facebook's of over a billion people is quite a gold mine.  It could make our entire economy more efficient and help lesser known start-up companies connect with a world of customers.  

While these are positives to, it has met criticism from people who believe that the customer relationship management industry needs more regulation.  For example, in November 2007, had many of its customer's data stolen in a cyber attack which was then used to send phishing emails to those customers.  Phishing is the act of trying to take personal information from people through technology.  Had this attack happened after the unveiling of the Social Key the private profiles of those Facebook users would now not only be available to the users but to the entire world.  Your data could be sold to companies over and over again to be able to better target you and manipulate you into buying their product.  

Overall, we see that while is only trying to provide the best product to their customers, they are also creating an environment which can breach the privacy of a good portion of the world's population.  The Social Key could create a more efficient and open economy but in my opinion these positives do not outweigh the negatives of having your personal information be provided to a company that not only do I not know, I do not even have a connection with.

Joey Cahalan


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  2. Just because has the means of getting this extra edge on its competition does not mean it has the right to do it. The company has a moral obligation to its customers to protect them, but with the new Social Key, they are doing just the opposite. This seems like betrayal to me. I completely agree with you – the negatives of this situation greatly outweigh the positives. But while privacy is a major issue with’s new gadget, companies use similar tools all the time. Particularly, companies are using data mining tools to find out customers’ likes and dislikes (and I can bet that more than half of these customers have no idea). So, while this Social Key seems like a total breach of privacy, it’s not much different than the data mining marketers have been doing for a much longer time.

    Unfortunately, this could be the future of marketing and social networks. Facebook is just one company that has linked forces with I can only imagine what could happen if sites like Pinterest, Twitter, and even StumbleUpon also integrate with At that point, there may be no limits to what, and other marketer who uses the company’s resources, may be able to find out about a consumer.

    Right now’s Social Key seems like a dangerous idea in the eyes of civilians who can potentially be targeted by the company. However, if takes an ethical approach to using the information they gain from the Social Key and Facebook users, the face of marketing may change for the better. If I log on to my account, I like seeing similar products that other people, whose tastes are similar to mine, have viewed. Sometimes it feels like Amazon knows a little too much about me, but I have given them that right by making an account and using their services to buy discounted products. Maybe I will have a similar experience with my Facebook account.

    However, there is a difference between my Amazon account and my Facebook account. On Amazon, I knew I was giving my information to Amazon and hopefully Amazon only. I trust that they will keep my personal information secure and away from hackers who might try to send me phishing emails. Similarly, I hoped that Facebook would act like Amazon, keeping my user information private and out of the hands of people whom I do not give permission to see it. But, Facebook’s new partnership with makes me second-guess the need for my Facebook account. What to me is a simply social networking site where I can connect with friends has now become a marketer’s dream site for advertising products. And, I don’t recall ever being notified by Facebook that my account information could be in the hands of other companies like I am more upset that I was not informed by my social network that this was happening, than the fact that it actually did. Right now Joey, I contemplate becoming Facebook-less like you.


  3. It is crazy to think of how far technology has come over the years. The concept of social key reminds me of the article I recently commented on about facial recognition. Once again companies are violating customer’s privacy in order to improve their marketing strategies.

    Facebook users have the ability to set their profiles to private. I do not understand what gives companies the right to break that privacy and tap into people’s accounts. In the article “ unveils social key,” the collaboration of data from social network and traditional data (like employer and phone number) "the data perspective necessary to develop deeper connections with customers." What if customers do not want to have a deeper connection.

    Also, in some cases people like things on facebook as a joke. They think it is funny so they click like, but in reality it is of no interest to them. There have also been cases where I have looked at my list of likes, and there are things that I have no recollection clicking. The concept of social key can therefore collect false and irrelevant data. They might try and reach customers based on their false findings and potentially turn off the customer.

    I strongly believe that companies need to have the consent of the customer before they tap into their private information. In order for people to be on particular store’s email lists they need to sign up. This should be no different. If people want to be personally matched to companies they should sign up and give up the privacy rights.

    All in all the concept of social key is a good idea for companies. It will enable them to give the customers what they truly want and “like”. Although the cons outweigh the pros and unless they are given permission I do not think companies should have the right to use social key.

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  5. Joey, the meets facebook article you wrote about was very interesting and opened my eyes to the social media threats on privacy out there. After reading this article I realized that facebook, twitter and other social networks appear to be public sites where information posted is potentially fair game for anyone to use, especially facebook partners like Therefore information people post can and will be exposed for all to see and use. This is certainly something to think about especially for people who rely heavily on social networks for collaboration. Companies like are learning how to assimilate data from our pictures, opinions, likes or dislikes into useful information for their clients. This could be problematic for those who don’t want to opt in to such openness of information. Gone potentially is the premise that “only your friends will see your information.” The reality is our privacy is being breached right under our nose and we don’t even know it. Joey’s article touches in on the importance of keeping your information safe so it does not ruin your life in the long run. Let’s say you wake up on a Saturday morning and the picture that your friend tagged you in that drunken stupor is now on a billboard advertisement. This is not so far-fetched. Even becoming a “settings” guru isn’t going to be able to stop the privacy breaches going on.

    Using internet website data to help companies boost sales sounds like a great idea but can it be done without invading personal private information. It might be nearly impossible to get pools of social media participants to volunteer their information, so as a result it is just being vacuumed up by savy tech-giants like and facebook. As Joey touches on, is behind this as they provide markets with pools of prospective customers through people’s likes and dislikes on facebook. They are providing this information to help companies boost sales and cut marketing costs by being laser focused on groups that they know will want their products or services based on their facebook behaviors.

    I did some extra research on what “social key” is about. Anthony Myers from CMSWire magazine writes what social key is trying to enforce he states; it is a new feature that companies are using to help correlate social data with the stores of business data. For example, if someone is posting complaints on Twitter, and that person doesn’t have any info in their profile, Social Key may be able to figure who that person is if they are connected to the business. Social key also works the other way where customers can get instant business information through social networks as well. The reason why businesses are trying to get a hold of this information is because social networks have become so popular over the past couple of years, and is a great source of real-time personal information that can be used for streamlining marketing efforts.

    This most likely is a petri dish of the future where sales and marketing relies heavily on social networks. I would not be surprised if other social networks like tumblr, pintrest, and StumbleUpon create partnerships of their own like perhaps, Microsoft or Oracle to name a few to also integrate social networks with sales. If all of these social networks combine with or others we can say good bye to privacy. Companies will be able to find more and more out about their customers making it almost unfair when they come calling on us with a product or service they already know we are going to love or should I say “like”. Companies may get to the point where they know us better than ourselves, which is a bit creepy to think about it. Where do we go from here Joey? Boycotting facebook or would require quite an effort, but may be required if we are to continue to protect our privacy.


  6. The Social Key definitely raises some red flags on customer privacy. I agree with Joey that it is unethical for to be able to hack into people’s personal information regardless of their privacy settings. I believe the only way should be allowed to implement the Social Key is through Facebook users who willingly choose to not make their profiles private. Unfortunately, in today’s society, internet technology is becoming so powerful that it is hard to put limits on people’s ability to access protected information. I think this article poses are larger issue with the internet all together. When the internet first came about, it was introduced with certain standards and rules that had to be followed. As time has progressed, technology has only continued to develop and is not stopping now. I believe that the standards and rules have not efficiently adapted enough along with these technological progressions to give everyday users the protection they deserve.

    In an article by John Hazard called, “ Announces Service Cloud 3, Facebook Integration,” Hazard states, “Service Cloud 3 gives companies the ability to monitor and capture conversations about their brands taking place in Facebook wall posts, Twitter streams, blogs, and forums and create cases for a customer-service agent response.” I believe that Customer Relationship Management is extremely important to help businesses grow and develop. However, I believe stalking people’s private Facebook posts to their friends and family is taking this process too far. If a person is open enough to not make their Facebook and Twitter accounts private, then they are subjecting themselves to information leakage. I would not oppose public accounts or even blogs and forums because people know what their signing up for. Blogs and forums are meant to be shared with others and if people do not protect their accounts they are allowing them to do the same. If companies work solely off of publicly shared information I wouldn’t see this integration as a problem. However, Hazard states, “Functions like Social Analytics and the integration across ‘Any Channel’ have the potential to turn the Web into a universal CRM.” Allowing this integration to obtain private information is simply unacceptable.

    Businesses have a right to inquire information about people’s wants and needs to better suit their happiness. However, when trying to get feedback from people, you don’t just barge into their homes and start rummaging through their receipts or assets, and demand to know their interests. You may not be coming into physical contact with prospective customers on the internet, but you can’t intrude on their cyber homes either. Businesses need to respect people’s personal boundaries and continue to get their feedback the old-fashioned way by simply asking people first and working with the people who are willing to share. Customer Relationship Management is an important and encouraged technique among all businesses but sometimes too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. If has the ability to access all sorts of information without limitations, problems can be expected to flourish in the future.

  7. Data mining is a vital technology to marketers. Companies use data mining to better customer relations. The more a marketing team knows about each individual customer, the better they can satisfy their needs. If you login to your Netflix account on the bottom of the page you will see a section of movies that “you may like.” The companies are able to access your previous likes and dislike in order to figure out what movies are best for you. This is exactly what is trying to do, but on a wider scale. will be able to link up with Facebook and have full access to our likes and dislikes. From this, they will be able to target their audience better and connect their customers with products that may be of interest to them. This will take marketing to a whole new level. By doing so will be able to link customers with companies and products that they may not even know existed. This will broaden a customer’s view on different products. They will have a wider range of products to choose from. This can be economically effective in today’s market. The U.S will profit from this enhanced marketing technique because many of its companies sales will increase from tactics that is implementing.

    Although this may be good for our economy, I feel that it is a major invasion of privacy. I don’t think should be able to have access to someone’s personal information, regardless of their privacy setting. I think that in order for to be able to get information from Facebook, they need to have the persons consent. Where will it stop from here? Next it will be Tumbler, Pinterest and Twitter. People will constantly be getting bombarded with numerous emails a week. If a person gets fed up with being harassed via email, this could drive them away from a certain company’s products.

    I believe that the way for a company to be successful is to put its customer first. I think it is good that a company wants to take into account each individual’s own needs and likes, but only to a certain extent. I think that going against someone’s privacy settings is where I draw the line.