ABCI’s mission is to help aviation companies sell more of their products and services so that they have the revenue to innovate, and to take even better care of their people – customers and employees.

For today’s Follow Friday, we all know Mark Zuckerberg has been testifying before Congress about Facebook’s use of personal data, and congresspeople have been asking many smart and many silly questions about the Internet, personal privacy and security.

Now, we’re all involved in aviation and marketing, both of which have a lot to do with technology, privacy and security. A huge part of the reason that many of our customers use business aviation is because of privacy and security concerns. So if we’re in the business, we’re all risk managers by nature.

So, A lot of folks have been asking us – are we cutting back on Facebook use or Facebook advertising? Should we delete our Facebook account?

My answer to both questions is the same – “Not if it works!”

Here’s why. There is nothing new here.

Privacy and security is a lot more complicated about using (or not using) a particular tool.

In 2012, there was a news story about an angry man who contacted Target about a mailer that was sent to his house addressed to his teenage daughter, advertising cribs and baby clothes. “My daughter got this in the mail, she’s still in high school, are you trying to encourage teen pregnancy?”

The manager in the store handled the complaint as best he could, but was just as confused as the father.

When a supervising manager from Target corporate called the man back to add his apology, the man disclosed that he had had a talk with his daughter, she WAS in fact, pregnant, and had a due date of August.

A Target employee later disclosed a fictional case describing how this could have happened with a fictional shopper. Every shopper is assigned a Guest ID which is attached to a credit card, email or shopper loyalty card. This fictional shopper bought cocoa butter lotion, a purse large enough to use as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug within a particular month. Target calculated there was an 87 percent chance she was pregnant and was due in 4-5 months.

I’ve noticed that I get advertisements by email from Amazon for the next book in a series that I’m reading, about a week after I bought a book.

So, nobody touched Facebook in this story.

Now let’s go back a hundred years or so.

Alexander Graham Bell invented (or at least patented) the telephone in 1849.

If he had invented it today, people could argue that it is just as disruptive as Facebook.

  • People waste time on it.
  • Teenagers spend their whole life on it rather than going out and actually meeting people face to face
  • It can be used as an invasion of people’s time and privacy
  • It’s used to commit crimes

Can you imagine the Congress of 18 fifty something convening, and calling Alexander Graham Bell on the carpet the way they called Mark Zuckerberg,  and arguing for two days about how it works, and whether or not it should be regulated?

My point is this – privacy is a real concern. But Facebook isn’t any more or less culpable than any other tool.

We all need to be concerned with the privacy and security of our own data and that of our clients. That’s the business we’re in.

We all need to decide what our own personal minimums are, and need to stop and think before we share information with any corporation. Whether that’s on the phone, by using a loyalty card or shopping card for a purchase, or using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Just like when we’re pilot in command of an aircraft, we need to take the risks into account. I’m not moving to a cabin in the woods and making my own soap. Not yet, anyway, and I’m not pulling the plug on Facebook. I also won’t fly the Skyhawk with a 20-knot gusty crosswind. I am, quite honestly, a low-time, infrequent pilot.

There are people that are fine with a 20 knot gusty crosswind. I’m not.

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to fly, that just means I’ll take an instructor (or John) or watch the weather and go earlier or later.

Same thing with security & privacy. There is lots of great advice about how to access and control your data on Facebook, but most people haven’t bothered to look at it. You should also look at the privacy settings on your browser, use more secure passwords, take backups and print paper copies of all important documents, shop at stores you feel good about, and take reasonable precautions that never would have occurred to you five years ago.

And decide on YOUR personal minimums for data sharing.

Some of the items that have been shared in our Private Group –