In a world where consumer trust in pretty much everything – politics, Facebook, the housing market, news outlets – is at an all-time low, our job as communicators is more important than ever before.
There are companies out there that are acting in questionably nefarious ways. Cambridge Analytica was thrown into the media spotlight following accusations that it was harvesting the data of Facebook users on behalf of governments in order to influence elections. It’s the dark side of technology – and something we should have seen coming.
Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and any other companies that use our data pledge to keep it safe. It’s our own willingness to click “accept terms and conditions” when accessing a new app, without reading the fine print. The Pokémon Go app is a great example – a bug in the terms and conditions meant that the developers could theoretically gain access to users’ entire Google account, including email. So to that end, we’re not entirely blameless. But there should be more education and protection for this kind of thing.
Privacy is going to continue to be a big issue throughout 2018, especially following the introduction of the GDPR. While a headache for businesses, I genuinely believe it will benefit everyone once the crinkles have been ironed out.
The tech industry took a bit of a battering during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Mark Zuckerberg was hauled up in front of Congress in the US, and has been summoned to appear in front of the UK government too. It’s a wake-up call for the whole industry – especially any company that handles customer data. I’d argue that’s just about everyone.
The danger is that as the spotlight continues to shine on privacy and how technology firms use our data, companies who are using technology for good may be tarred with the same brush. As communicators, it is our job to ensure we’re telling the stories behind the amazing companies who are looking to make the world a better place.
During my first meeting with Cordelia at the FieldHouse Associates offices, it became clear to me that it is a company that is doing genuinely great work to support the UK’s startup and fast-growth ecosystem. The team works with entrepreneurs, founders, and people with big ideas who genuinely want to change the world for better.
As communications consultants in the current post-truth era, I think it’s especially important to tell our partners and clients how important being honest is, while also telling the stories of the genuinely good companies out there. Luckily, FieldHouse Associates has no problem “telling it how it is”, no matter how hard it might be.
In the long run, everybody will benefit from a more honest approach to communications, and to business in general. The technology at our fingertips is more exciting than ever, and I for one can’t wait to see what comes next.