If there’s one thing that has really been a black mark on Facebook’s image recently, it is the privacy scandal. After the entire Cambridge Analytica debacle, the company still hasn’t seen the end of controversy. Recently, news came out that Facebook has paid contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its Messenger service, further raising questions regarding the company’s privacy guidelines. With the company even accepting a $5 billion fine to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission probe of its privacy practices, it is under intense scrutiny as far as privacy and data security is concerned.
The company has to go a long away in mending its tarnished reputation when it comes to the issue, and it is surely doing that in an interesting way.
With increasing attention on digital privacy as well as criticism over the social media company's protection of users' private data, Facebook has decided to launch 5 pop up cafes across the UK. So how does a coffee shop and a social media company collaborate for some good PR? The cafes essentially serve as centres where visitors can get a privacy check-up and a free cup of coffee.
At the cafes, visitors will be offered free drinks if they take part in a "privacy check-up" The check-ups will show users how to customize their Facebook privacy settings, including what personal information is visible to others and what apps have access to their Facebook account. So if you don’t really want to accept all terms and conditions and actually want to figure out what the terms actually mean for your privacy, you know where to get your coffee from.
The company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg has become the poster boy of data privacy violations in recent times and it is this which prompted the company to take such an unconventional step to address security concerns. In a press release Steve Hatch, VP, Facebook Northern Europe, is quoted as saying, “It’s normal to worry about who can see the things you share on social media, but not everyone knows what they can do about it. That’s why we have made customizing your privacy settings on Facebook quick and easy."
Each of the five cafes will be located within an existing coffee shop – The Attendant in London, Takk in Manchester, The Flour Pot Cafe in Brighton, Union Brew Lab in Edinburgh and Coffee Barker in Cardiff.
While this is certainly a welcome move, it will be interesting to see whether these cafes actually prove to be effective in tackling customer concerns when it comes to the safety of their data. According to Facebook, a recent poll suggested more than 25% of Londoners can't change their privacy settings. Only time will tell whether these cafes actually help the users, or is one just big glorified marketing exercise by the company.