Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

What Facebook Privacy Problem? Advertisers Yawn.

122109ATDbuddymediaPlenty of Web folks–me included–hollered loudly when Facebook overhauled its privacy policy this month. But the Web is made for shouting, so that makes it pretty hard to get a sense of how most people really feel.

For instance: Do advertisers, an increasingly important part of Facebook’s constituency, care about this stuff? I’ve been looking for signs that the network’s changes have made them skittish, a la the Beacon debacle of 2007. But so far, I haven’t seen anything.

That’s because there isn’t anything, says Mike Lazerow.

Lazerow runs Buddy Media, a start-up that makes most of its money helping big companies–from Bud Light to AMD (AMD) to the Twilight movie franchise–create and maintain “fan pages” on Facebook. These companies in turn spend lots of money advertising their pages to Facebook users and are now generating a substantial part of the network’s revenue. And Lazerow says none of the 125 brands he’s working with on Facebook have uttered a peep to him about the privacy changes so far.

“I know for sure that advertisers don’t care,” he tells me in the video interview embedded below.

The caveat here is that Lazerow isn’t a neutral observer: His company is pretty much dependent on advertisers embracing Facebook. Still, if marketers are worried, they’re expressing that very, very quietly.

Our discussion of Facebook’s privacy problem–or lack of a problem–kicks in around the nine-minute market of this clip. We spent the rest of our time talking about Buddy Media’s business, which Facebook more or less kick-started less than a year ago when it allowed brands to create their own fan pages.

To me, the economy tethered to fan pages seems based on a sort of circular logic: Brands are told they should create the pages–which are essentially what we used to call “Web sites”–so that they can advertise the pages on Facebook so they can drive people to use the pages.

But marketers seem to have embraced the idea, which is big news for Facebook, as well as entrepreneurs like Lazerow.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik