The digital world is progressing at a rapid pace. In fact, it is evolving much faster than the laws
governing the same are. Most of the laws that look after the privacy of digital users were made long
time ago and have several loopholes.
Social Media platforms collect vast amounts of user data without informing the users. But that’s not
all – the bigger concern here is the way that data is used, or rather misused. We have read how
Cambridge Analytica used Facebook user data to influence the outcome of the US Presidential
elections. We’ve also heard about massive amounts of WhatsApp and Snapchat data being leaked or
What is GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a data regulation law passed by the European
Union that gives European citizens better control over their personal data. It sets new rules
regarding how companies operating online gather and use user data. And it just doesn’t end here;
these companies will have to ensure that the data is protected against any kind of misuse.
The GDPR applies to every organization operating inside the European Union, as well as
organizations outside the EU that provide goods or services to European citizens. The GDPR has gone
into effect from 25 th May, 2018 and that’s why you would have noticed a lot of emails from
Facebook, Google, Snapchat etc. After all, these are the organizations that collect the maximum
amount of user data for the purpose of social media marketing.
Failure to comply with GDPR regulations can invite a fine of 20 million Euros!
How will it affect Social Media platforms?
Social Media platforms have started making changes to their existing model. Let’s have a look at them –
Facebook Ad Updates
- Retargeting: Facebook collects user data by means of the Facebook Pixel, and later retargets users. Online retailers that install such Pixels on their websites will need to obtain consent of users before collecting their data
- Custom Audience: Custom Audiences can no longer be shared between Advertisers
- Lead Ads: Users filling the lead ads will have to be informed that their data is being
Instagram falls under the purview of Facebook, and the ads are usually run via Facebook Business
Manager. The same set of rules apply to Facebook and Instagram.
Snapchat’s approach revolves around the U-16 age group. Snapchat will stop collecting locational or Snap Map data of people below 16 years of age. The Snap Map was a controversial feature since it allowed people to track location of any individual real time.
Instapaper, a read-it-later service owned by Pinterest has been temporarily shut down for European users. It was non-compliant with the GDPR regulations and may need 2 years to become compliant!
GDPR and Marketers
- Consent: Marketers must get explicit opt-in, especially in cases of email marketing
- Data Access: Marketers must give users ready access to their data, and also the right to
remove consent anytime