We at The Armchair MBA are very aware that the person you may see simply as a revenue-generating customer is actually a human being with a unique history, identity, and set of hopes and challenges. Just like you.
This past Saturday we were humbled by the courage and determination of a customer. We only learned her backstory after completing a consultation and sale (about 1 hour).
As described on her website: “Andrea Lytle Peet was diagnosed with ALS in 2014 at the age of 33. In eight months, she went from completing a 70.3-mile half Ironman triathlon to walking with a cane.
Remarkably, she has continued to participate in races on her recumbent trike. In May 2022, She became the first person with ALS to do a marathon in all 50 states!“
ALS diagoses typically are accompanied by a 2-5 year life expectancy. Andrea has passed year 8, is not passively accepting her situation but is attacking it full throttle, and has raised over $1 million for ALS research.
A documentary about her story ‘Go On, Be Brave‘, will debut at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival next week (and will be shown at the Durham Theater in NC in June).
Confession and trigger warning: I’ve been listening to podcasts of Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano.
And I was surprised at some of the valuable management skills he used in his past day job.
If you’re not familiar, Salvatore Gravano was a big-time gangster and all-around bad guy, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s and mostly with the notorious NY Gambino mob, as a street guy, then a Made guy (formally initiated), then a Caporegime (or Capo, a captain with his own crew), then Consiglieri (think Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen in The Godfather), and ultimately Underboss, reporting to the uber-notorious John Gotti – effectively, he was sort of the COO of the Gambino family.
If Gravano had a LinkedIn profile, it would be pretty impressive – – loyalty to his organization, steady rise to top management, etc. – – falling short, however, in the areas of education (8th grade), and the fact that he, uh, spent over 22 years in prison. (I did check and no, he has no LI profile- yet).
His list of crimes ranges from the petty (stealing spare tires from car trunks when he was in a street gang) to shakedowns of various flavors, to the truly horrible – murder, either directly or as a planner, 19 by the FBI’s count (most famously, planning and executing the murder of the head of his own Family, ‘Boss of Bosses’ Paul Castellano, Gotti’s predecessor – in the middle of Christmas shopping crowds in NY in December 1985).
The first lesson is compartmentalization. I’ve always felt that there’s something to be learned from virtually everyone – from career mentors to role models to competitors to my dog Rizzo, who is super capable of being in the moment. It requires focusing on something important and ignoring everything else.
In this case, learning from a mobster requires the ability to separate the guy described above from the gruff, but relaxed and confident 77-year old you hear in the podcasts. While he committed a lot of heinous crimes that can never be forgiven, at the same time he also has some interesting takes on his past that can be helpful to us ‘legitimate’ people.
Gravano is a master compartmentalizer – – rationalizing the crimes of the past and softening them with statements about how he always did the right thing or what was required of him after pledging loyalty.
Moral Hazard Disclaimer: You need to be comfortable with the fact that listening to his podcasts in some way puts money in his, and Patreon’s, pockets.
Lesson: Loyalty to the organization, but with limits. Everyone knows that the Cosa Nostra demands utter loyalty – above family and faith. You do what the Boss demands without question, you keep him informed, you expect the same from those you lead. The penalty for screwing this up was usually not living long afterward.
Gravano took his loyalty oath seriously but not blindly. When the mercurial Gotti would order a hit, Gravano on multiple occasions would challenge Gotti’s command, encourage him to calm down and reconsider, rather than act on impulse and create bigger issues.
At the same time, after both of their arrests in 1990, when Gravano heard that Gotti had asked for a plea whereby he would throw Gravano under the bus, he reconsidered his view of loyalty and cooperated with the FBI against Gotti.
Lesson: Win-win. Gravano had outsized influence with labor unions on huge construction projects (not a few of which were Trump projects). Rather than exerting influence through threats of violence, he created unique schemes whereby all parties came out ahead (except, of course, the people paying for the buildings) – ensuring the loyalty of those he got payments from. And while his education stopped at 8th grade, he had practical experience running construction companies and was adept at running the numbers.
Lesson: Loyalty to people. Without question, personal loyalties were extremely important to Gravano, and he would go to significant lengths to help those he had loyalty to, even at personal risk, often for no financial benefit.
Lesson: Planning. Hearing the planning involved in some of the hits is eye-opening; sometimes it would take months. Staking out, detecting patterns, having plans and back-up plans, deploying decoy cars to block or distract police, etc. The goal was to anticipate every possible scenario and cover for it.
Lesson: Sunk cost. Despite planning, sometimes the unexpected did happen – -and despite having lots of assets in place, at times Gravano would assess the situation and cancel the hit. Considering the severe potential consequences of not executing the plan, this was no small decision.
Lesson: When in hole, stop digging. Gravano was arrested in 1990 and served 5 years as part of a plea deal, released in 1995, moved to Arizona. The end of roughly 20 years in the mob, with access to the Witness Protection Program (which he quickly opted out of). Free to start anew.
Which he did. In 2002, he was arrested for running a drug ring, got a 20-year sentence and was released a bit early in 2017. Oops.
He is by all appearances walking a straight path now.
Final lesson: Adapt and survive. This poorly-educated, street-smart, morally challenged 77-year old was previously mostly comfortable with a gun. He is now a podcaster and YouTuber, and you can hear him grimace when he asks you to ‘Like and Subscribe’ at the end of his podcasts, as his handlers insist. He also now does live ads for companies like watch company MVMT (“I don’t often take off my Rolex, but when I do, I wear MVMT” or “I know about doing time”), or counseling company betterhelp, or online insurance broker Policygenius. He also has a website and a number of other ventures.
Lots of people are getting cancelled these days. For most of them, it wasn’t something they wanted.
I, on the other hand, wanted desperately to be cancelled, and my best efforts yielded exactly no results. It left me somewhere in between ticked off and sad; call it pissappointed. My story is below, in blue.
We are referring, of course, to subscription auto-renewals (aka ‘evergreen clause’ or ‘negative option clause’, or in the words of one congressman, ‘zombie contracts’).
Auto-renewal practices are a critical way of sustaining revenue, but if done too aggressively, there are potential huge costs in losing customer goodwill and provoking litigation.
This is often related to free trials with a commitment buried in the fine print, but it’s not always the case, as I experienced.
Auto-renew allows companies to lock in revenue, often without the consumer even noticing. And they rely heavily on this practice; you will have to pry a company’s cold, dead hands off your money (usually with a lawyer’s help) before you get anything back.
Turns out I’m not the only one who’s been disappointed.
As a result, a lot of states are working on legislation to control abuse of the auto-renew, led by California’s Auto-Renewal Law (ARL), which took effect July 1, 2018 and prohibits automatic renewal of subscription or service fees without first presenting consumers with certain terms, and obtaining their affirmative consent.
The questions here:
What is the moral obligation to inform customers before they are going to be charged?
Is the retention of some proportion of ticked-off customers worth the blowback when they tell their friends/colleagues about it?
What actions can you take as a marketer or as a consumer, to avoid the need for litigation?
April 2018 – signed up for one year of online survey company’s premium package to support consulting work. Not aware of any auto-renew commitment.
April 2019 – found out my credit card was automatically charged for another year. Still used the service so no big deal; still, irritating to get neither a heads-up nor a confirmation that a charge was made.
March 2020 – didn’t need service anymore. Through my account portal, cancelled and switched off auto-renew a month before renewal (on advice of the company).
May 2020 – surprised to find that I’d been auto-billed again, despite cancelling. No email notice.
Emailed company: ‘must have been a mistake; don’t need it anymore, please reverse charges, thank you’.
Company responds that a) their records show that auto-renew was reinstated on my account (which it definitely wasn’t!) b) you are ineligible for an exception because it renewed over a month ago c) we cannot give full or partial refund. d) you should know this; it was in our T&C when you signed up (you noob).
Increasingly animated emails from me met with consistently anodyne ‘geez, we’re real sorry, you messed up, we can’t do anything about it’ responses.
Stopped payment on credit card; company now has cover and responds with: “Although our system showed that you re-instated your subscription, from your words, I know this was a mistake and clearly a human error. Even if I could make an exception for you, because a dispute has been filed with the card issuer or bank, we can’t take any action on the account.”
Thankfully, the charge was ultimately reversed.
But it was LOTS of effort, and let’s just say it won’t help their Net Promoter Score if I am asked for my opinion.
This is a big, popular, generally well-regarded company and they’re clearly taking all steps possible to maximize revenue retention. How many other companies are using the same tactics?
Well, in the last few years, over 100 companies have been sued for deceptive auto-renewals, including those shown below (spawning a cottage industry of how to disable auto-renew):
Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft)
Gunthy-Renker (Proactiv skin products)
New York Times
WalMart’s Beauty Box
It is no secret that a renewal is way more profitable than acquiring a new customer, and the fight for customers is fierce, so the focus on retention is understandable.
But at some point the negative impact of heavy-handed tactics, in terms of brand goodwill and image (not to mention litigation costs), could overwhelm the benefit.
IF YOU’RE A MARKETER OF SUBSCRIPTION PRODUCTS OR SERVICES:
Become familiar with, and follow, California’s ARL; it looks to be the standard going forward
Offer in-between solutions that give the customer relief, but keeps them in the fold and positive. (Example: when I tried to cancel my Audible subscription when my commute was drastically shortened, they offered a deal of $10/year to retain the books I already had, rather than losing everything. That was a good solution for me.)
IF YOU’RE A CONSUMER:
Read the fine print on everything you sign up for, and keep careful records
If you want to downgrade your level, challenge the company to provide a better option. Frequently they’ll do anything possible to keep you.
Certain apps like TRIMhttps://www.asktrim.com/automatically detect recurring charges on your credit cards; they can help identify needless renewals and help with cancellations
IF YOU’VE READ THIS FAR:
Thanks for your patience and loyalty. You have automatically been renewed to follow The Armchair MBA for another 5 years. You have no opt-out before that time.
Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. The oppression of everyone being confined at home all day, every day is testing the limits of patience. And this extends to Fido.
The good folks who brought you Match.com have decided that enough is enough – – there is now a video doggy hookup, er, playdate app that is intended to keep your four-legged friends distracted and occupied for hours at a time while you’re trying to work.
On the surface, it seems silly, but when you consider that your dog is missing out on daily dog-to-dog interaction, this sort of stimulation might come in handy over what is certain to be several more months of isolation.
Just look at that little buddy, bored and looking up at you. Here’s a way to let technology assuage your guilt! (it’s actually pretty cool)
Full text of the press release is below:
DoggoVision offers a videoconferencing alternative to Doggy Daycare
This innovative networked service is a response to sweeping stay-at-home rules, requiring entire families to work and/or study under the same roof, which for many families had never been experienced before. Compounding the situation is the closure of pet sitting facilities and services, which in many cases had provided an outlet for pets and a break for their owners.
While working from home has generally increased the number of walks dogs are getting, human social distancing during these walks has severely curtailed dog-to-dog interaction.
DoggoVision provides dogs (and their owners) access to a video community in which dogs can interact in real time, in both audio and video, with other dogs selected for particular affinities. Selection criteria include dog size, breed, temperament, etc. Enabled by the virtual reality of the Spaces app, dogs can see, bark, investigate, engage in play behavior, and even virtually ‘sniff’ other dogs.
A variety of video background images can be artificially projected behind the dogs’ video images, so that the dogs can think they’re at the beach, in a forest, in the AKC show, on the couch, etc. According to the company, in beta testing most dogs quickly accepted the scenarios, were transfixed for up to several hours at a time, and there were very few fights.
Sign-up is free through http://www.doggovision.com, and requires the owner to enter their dog’s description, disposition, favorite activities, typical daily schedules, and any triggers that drive bad behavior (e.g. mailman, vacuum cleaner, etc). Fees are based on session length, time of day, and size of group.
The DoggoVision software, in addition to using Zoom technology, uses Match.com AI algorithms to optimize dog matches globally. An owner has the capability to swipe a ‘paw’ icon if a proposed dog or dog group is objectionable. Software automatically verifies that dog preview photos are current.
According to a spokesperson from Match Group, owner of Match.com, OkCupid, Tinder and other services: “Match Group’s mission is bringing people together. DoggoVision extends this concept to our best friends, and in providing diversion for dogs, creates a little peace in the home.
Our existing software platforms were essential in developing this product in record time. This is not a simple watch-only video product – it’s fully interactive, inspired by the natural outgoing and playful spirit of dogs. There will be no equivalent version for cats. Importantly, while DoggoVision fulfills a specific need, it is not intended as a substitute for the obligations of responsible dog ownership.”
Over the last week, shelter-in-place restrictions due to Covid-19 have turned the work landscape upside down.
This is one story of how one person, given lemons, has made lemonade.
Mom turned 89 last week. She has been a lifetime pianist, still does performances at senior homes several times each month, and has been teaching now for about 65 years, currently with about 5-10 weekly students.
The new workplace rules prevent in-person lessons, and as anyone who ever took piano lessons knows, skills deteriorate quickly. This is not good when you’re a piano teacher. You need your students to continue to move forward with their skills.
So, with guidance from a former piano student (now at MIT), Mom decided she would try to teach remotely.
And that is exactly what she’s done.
As she described it excitedly yesterday:
“It’s really very easy. I’m using Chrome, and the Zoom app. My students (aged 7-17) are quite capable of setting up a camera to show their hands on the keyboard. I send them an invitation, give them the code, and off we go. I see their hands, and they see me. It actually works better for the younger students because they are forced to figure things out for themselves”.
Mom has successfully completed her first 5 online teaching sessions, with more to come.
A story, perhaps apocryphal, describes the past-his-prime comedian who, when the laughs just aren’t coming, drops his pants, revealing brightly patterned boxer shorts. Unfailingly it gets a reaction. Problem solved.
There is an analog if you’re in the business of selling consumer products – – you need to have a compelling story to tell. Brands who don’t know why they’re better than the competition often resort to fail-safe attention-getting tactics – – puppies, babies, tear-jerker stories, corn syrup…
…and of course, sex.
Carl’s Jr./Hardees and GoDaddy.com are just two of the many who made sex their Unique Selling Proposition. You can check their commercials out on YouTube; I cannot safely post a link here.
Both appear to have moved on, ostensibly to broaden their audiences as they move out of copywriting adolescence. In the #MeToo era, many advertisers have thankfully become more sensitive in how they go to market.
But there is a convenient alternative: #FoodPorn. With a wink and a nod and a hashtag that telegraphs ‘we’re hip’, #FoodPorn is titillating with words otherwise not used in general conversation, but without the photos. The buzzword gives permission.
In the most recent Super Bowl, Kraft Heinz’s Devour frozen food brand actually advertised on a real porn site, Pornhub.com, blurring the line between metaphor and reality. The brand is positioned as ‘flavor first’, the very embodiment of FoodPorn, and thus this stunt was all a humorous, one-time attempt to make the point and get some attention. But based on their website, they’re sticking with the FoodPorn angle. Not sure what the results were, other than a ton of attention.
But do we want to go there? Despite the old adage, not all attention is good attention. Most brands would prefer to focus on the product and avoid the crass associations that undermine credibility and turn off potential customers. But not all.
At a favorite burger chain recently (not fast food – – burgers are $10-14), where it talked about ‘friends and family’, part of the menu was blacked out. Upon inspection, it revealed that the blacked out words completed the language: “Post that #BurgerPorn and tag us. We never get tired of seeing them sexy burger shots.”
Upon conversation with the waitress, this is a case of man bites dog. The headquarters marketing staff decided to send sexed up menus to all of their restaurants, and in at least this case, the local owner disagreed with their judgment and took a marker to it.
I’m guessing the owner knows his customers, sees a lot of moms and dads, and drew the connection that they might not be interested in explaining to the kids what that all means. (I had a similar experience explaining the Clinton impeachment hearings to single-digit aged kids).
The irony is that these guys have a great concept – outstanding quality, reasonably priced food in a very pleasant environment.
Why mess all that up and distract attention with references to #FoodPorn?
You may have seen this interesting visual story recently as it made the rounds.
It is a diagram of a World War II Royal Air Force plane showing where bullets had hit the plane. The purpose was to direct where extra armor should be placed to protect other planes. Makes sense, right?
Direct, personal, effective. The best type of recommendation.
Fast forward a few millennia – – millions of shopping decisions are routinely made based on star ratings or online reviews – from total strangers.
In other words, online reviews are often less credible sources than Caveman Gok had.
While technology has provided lots of review resources (e.g. Yelp, Glassdoor, Amazon Stars), it has not yet figured out how to protect the integrity of these reviews – – thus making them not totally dependable.
And consumers are increasingly realizing this.
At the end of the day, a personal reco from someone you know may still be your best bet.
Consider these news stories from just the last few weeks:
“I visited a Facebook group called “Amazon Reviews” and was promised a full refund on a $44 Amazon purchase of a pet fountain if I did the following on the mega-retailer’s site:
1. Write a positive review. 2. Post my photos of the product. 3. Rate it five stars. Not only is this ethically problematic, it is also against Amazon and Facebook user policies.”
There are 4 types of reviews mentioned in the article:
1. Legit reviews – you bought it, you review it, good or bad.
2. Vine reviews – incentivized reviews for prolific reviewers. Objectivity not guaranteed.
3. Incentivized reviews (like the pet fountain above). Objectivity clearly suspect.
4. Fake reviews – often from Asian click farms. Totally bogus – often products reviewed are not even remotely what is listed.
Not exactly encouraging.
To allegedly combat the bias for negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor, some companies are apparently gently encouraging (and in some cases providing incentives) for employees to leave positive reviews.
“Last summer, employees of Guaranteed Rate Inc. posted a stream of negative reviews about the mortgage broker on Glassdoor, a company-ratings website.
– “An American sweatshop,” read a one-star review in June. “Worst company I ever worked for,” read another in July. The company’s rating on Glassdoor, which is determined by employee feedback, fell to 2.6 stars out of 5. – Concerned that negative reviews could hurt recruiting, Guaranteed Rate CEO Victor Ciardelli instructed his team to enlist employees likely to post positive reviews, said a person familiar with his instructions. In September and October these employees flooded Glassdoor with hundreds of five-star ratings. The company rating now sits at 4.1.”
One study estimates that while 88% of consumers put their trust in online reviews, at least 20% of them are in reality fake (the reviews, not the consumers).
As time goes on, consumers will judge online reviews with an increasing dose of skepticism, until AI figures out a way to effectively and convincingly screen out reviews that are just not legit. It’s complicated (see example from the Boston Globe).
So what can a marketer do to encourage the most credible endorsements of their products — enthusiastic, personal word of mouth recommendations?
Here are 3 examples, 2 of which involve reaching out and delighting the customer such that they take some sort of action that could influence others:
Chewy.com. Over the Holidays we received a mystery package that it turns out was sent by Chewy.com, and included an ink-on-canvas portrait of our dog, and a very enthusiastic hand-written card that said “Surprise! We hope you and your furbaby enjoy the portrait. Remember we’re open 24/7. Call us anytime, we’d love to hear from you!” So cool.
– Yes, this cost $, but they got it back in multiples from the number of people we told about it or who saw our social media posts. (Not to mention the fact that we’re just a little more likely to continue buying from them ourselves.)
YETI. To become an object of their affection, we merely had to go to the trouble of registering online for a gift we received – – a thermo mug, not one of their over-the-top coolers.
Shortly thereafter we received a thank you card with several YETI stickers, some of which of course will end up in a visible place, thereby providing a passive reinforcement of the brand to others.
Nextdoor. A bit different from the ‘delight’ category is the true word-of-mouth category, represented by the neighborhood network Nextdoor, which is an avenue for sponsored ads in addition to personal recommendations. The credibility factor is high.
There are lots of other ways to engender a personal relationship and loyalty well beyond what stars on a review can do.
Customer Support that has a personal touch and continuity – so the customer feels a connection with the help desk person (chat, email or phone)
Personalized customer outreach (email or snail mail) not asking for anything, just staying in touch and inviting the recipient to provide any feedback they may have.
(Making great products and backing them up doesn’t hurt, either).
Random acts of kindness may be seen as an incremental cost, but the personal connection can not only encourage current customers to be loyal, it can encourage them to tell others about their great experience. And that’s the name of the game.
I’ve been wasting valuable time listening to podcasts, and I bet your target audience has been, too. Why not take advantage of this and reach out to them?
In the ever-shifting world of digital advertising, podcasts – serialized audio shows – are a fast-growing medium worth considering:
Allows targeting by attitude / preference / affinity rather than simple demographics
Highly engaged (addicted) audience – self-selected by interest in the subject matter
Loyal audience – regularly tune in to serial episodes – facilitating multiple exposures
Multi-platform accessibility – web, mobile, etc. – because listeners need continuity
Personal reading of ads by host(s) – ideally live reads – are more authentic and compelling
Bite-sized – typically 15-60 minutes per episode
For example, I listen to Casefile, one of the many true crime podcasts. The ads seem to fit the tenor of the podcast, and because they are read live in a conversational style by the host, they seem more genuine and less likely to be skipped.
My behavior has changed because of this podcast – – I’m more likely to walk the dog (plus!) for some alone time with my podcast. More likely to ignore family members, professional obligations, personal growth (minus!) by finding excuses to listen to my podcast. Ultimately, though, I’m listening attentively to who murdered whom, and I pay more attention to the ads than I would in other settings.
According to iab research, podcast advertising spending is growing fast – – from $169 million in 2016, it almost doubled to $314 million in 2017, and is expected to double again to $659 million by 2020. At some point it will level off, but for now it is an evolving advertising option in growth mode.
Podcasts can help you get smart (or distracted) on topics ranging from personal finance to true crime to trends in medicine to true crime to politics to true crime to business to true crime. Not surprisingly, podcast audiences vary widely by subject matter.
Stitcher is one of several sites that rank listenership of podcasts, among other things. Most podcasts have well-defined audiences. Top-rated My Favorite Murder, for example, has female hosts and skews highly female, while its true-crime male-hosted counterpart Last Podcast on the Left, skews more male. Mostly because those guys can be pretty disgusting. https://www.stitcher.com/stitcher-list/all-podcasts-top-showsMore interesting, podcast audiences also vary widely by geography. Why Illinois prefers Felonious Florida and neighboring Indiana prefers Stuff You Should Know, may remain a mystery.
At any rate, mark this as a medium that’s on the rise. If you haven’t listened to a podcast, audit one from the Stitcher list.
One caution – normal FCC language restrictions don’t apply. So be careful – – some of these podcasts can get quite earthy.
An additional trigger warning: they can be addicting. My 20-something daughters referred me to the aforementioned My Favorite Murder, hosted by two very talented female improvisational comedians, and which consists of 50% true crime and 50% random stuff that women apparently discuss among themselves and which should have zero appeal. (“ate 2 pints of Halo Top, stayed in my sweats all day, that’s ok, right?”, etc.)
Rationally I shouldn’t be that interested. But now I need my fix.
Which is great for the dog, and great for advertisers.
This is our monthly installment of ‘Delayed Grasp of the Obvious’.
Just before Facebook Week last week I volunteered a point of view that was posted in Kevin Coupe’s excellent retail blog MorningNewsBeat.com, questioning that as FB doesn’t charge, how can it compensate users for breach of their private data? (the letter is shown below).
Fair enough question and we saw Zuckerberg, Sandberg & Co. take some baby steps last week after the Congressional rotisserie.
But I made a huge error when I said “Facebook is free already”. Palm to forehead.
In Facebook, you don’t pay cash, you pay with something much more dear: YOU.
In fact, Facebook, and all other ‘free’ sites, are not benevolent social facilitators, they are essentially match.com-like dating sites that try to hook up advertisers with hot to trot consumers. Except you don’t volunteer things like ‘long walks on the beach’. All you do is go about your daily life, posting and clicking, and your profile is created in the background, with data you didn’t even know was being collected.
Basic stuff, but really brought home by the latest Facebook issues, which look to become a watershed moment in privacy practices.
As a marketer doing anything online, understand that your future efforts to connect with consumers is going to have to deal with increasing amounts of skepticism, where consumers make a more informed decision about whether hitting that last click-bait article, or signing up for something that looks free.
– and increasing privacy laws will likely mean greater disclosure and more overt opt-in requirements.
As a consumer, realize that online you are first a commodity, not some company’s friend, and you need to take exceptional care of YOU.
The days of ‘free’ services are waning. And this is not just another conspiracy theory.
April 6, 2018
I liked this email about the Facebook situation from MNB reader David Tuchler:
So here’s the thing: any normal business that screwed up or compromised its customers’ privacy or violated any other customer rights would be compelled to offer some sort of make-good (morally if not legally). If the laundry scorches your shirt, they cover the cost of the shirt or give you a credit. Even Equifax offered a identity protection service, even if it was sort of a ‘honestly, you can trust me again’ thing. The point is that the injured party is somehow compensated.
Facebook is different – it does not collect revenue from its consumer users. So even with millions of its users’ confidential data breached and a market cap of $464 Billion (that’s over $200 per user or $6000 per affected user), does Facebook have a responsibility to somehow make things right? And how would that even happen? In-kind gestures (we’ll extend your subscription another 3 months) doesn’t necessarily work here – – not only because FB is free already, but I don’t want any more FB – – I actually want less.
This is one of those areas where the law hasn’t kept up with the fast-moving nature of online activity (sort of analogous to the online sales avoid sales tax loophole). To the extent these social media companies have no avenue to make things right, I would have to agree with the European direction of requiring more strict and obvious safeguards and opt-in mechanisms so that risks are made clear and users can make a more rational judgment on whether to join or not.