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Privacy concerns prevent lawyers from using Facebook?

Facebook PrivacyLawyers and other professionals regularly raise privacy concerns when it comes to using Facebook. In many cases lawyers decide not to use Facebook for personal or professional networking because of these concerns.

I am not as concerned as most of you. My belief is that Facebook is doing little more than credit card companies, grocers, and drugstores have historically done with our buying habits and personal information.

The Financial Times’ Emily Steel (@emilysteel) and April Dembosky raised this same fear of Facebook ad tracking in an article yesterday.

Facebook is working with a controversial data company called Datalogix that can track whether people who see ads on the social networking site end up buying those products in stores.


Datalogix has purchasing data from about 70m American households largely drawn from loyalty cards and programmes at more than 1,000 retailers, including grocers and drug stores. By matching email addresses or other identifying information associated with those cards against emails or information used to establish Facebook accounts, Datalogix can track whether people bought a product in a store after seeing an ad on Facebook.

How’s it working?

So far, the two companies have measured 45 campaigns and in 70 per cent of cases, for every dollar a marketer spent on Facebook it earned an additional $3 in incremental sales, [Brad] Smallwood, [Facebook’s head of measurement and insights] said.

No question lawyers and consumers will be concerned about this practice. Privacy groups would like to see Facebook users have control over their data and have opt-in/opt-out controls of uses of their data like this.

Facebook’s response is that individual-level purchasing data was not shared with Facebook or its advertisers nor was individual Facebook user data shared with anyone.

I enjoy using Facebook to network personally and professionally. I share professional info and insight on my Real Lawyers Have Blogs Facebook Page. I share personal notes with friends and business associates on the Facebook newsfeed.

I have found Facebook worthwhile to use for business development because it allows me to nurture relationships in a way that most of the time does not include discussing business concerns.

As to privacy concerns, you’ll need to decide if by using Facebook you’re giving up more privacy than you already do with credit card and loyalty programs at your local grocer.

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