Dear America,

This is going to be a very uncomfortable conversation about your privacy… or at least what you think is your privacy.

This is the confession of an advertising man… and it’s something that everyone who uses Facebook needs to know.

It’s also something that every BUSINESS with a Facebook page needs to hear.

Remember all of the hoopla over the Cambridge Analytica files?  That was child’s play compared to what we have on you.

Quick 40,000 foot overview in case you missed the story when it dropped earlier this year.

Some 270,000 Facebook users used an app called “This Is Your Digital Life”.  By giving the third-party app permission to acquire their data in 2015, it also gave the app access to information on the user’s friends network. That was 87 million users who did NOT give Cambridge Analytica permission to access their data.

Everyone freaked out. The media was all over it.

And advertisers laughed. Why?  Because this data was a blip on the radar.

Advertisers already know everything about you… and are selling you stuff when you didn’t give them access to your data.

We are in your car. We are in your bedroom.  You’ve already told us far too much.

Think it doesn’t impact you? Think again.

Ever buy clothes at a department store?  A car? Flowers?

Ever pick up cleaning supplies in a big box store or at the supermarket?  Stuff to decorate your living room online?  Beer?  Wine?

Ever use a travel app? Get a mortgage?  Use a loyalty card at a gas station or gym?

Yup.  Your data… it’s mine.

Forget Cambridge Analytica. This runs so, so much deeper.

First – let’s start with what businesses need to know.

ADMIN ACCESS

When you give “admin access” to an individual or an advertising agency, you’re giving them access to all of your customer data.

Anyone who engages with your Facebook and Instagram page.  Anyone who is on an email newsletter that you uploaded into Facebook. Anyone who visits your website, if you’ve got your site integrated with your page.  ALL OF IT.

And they can use that data without you even knowing it.

Imagine, for example, you’re a private Christian University.  An advertising agency comes along and offers you an insane price on managing all of your social media and your advertising.

Would you be upset to find out that they were then targeting all of your followers with an ad campaign from a Christian dating website?

I would be.

You didn’t give them permission to do that…. and your followers didn’t either.  But you’d never know they stole your data… and neither would your followers.

It’s happening every single day from individuals and shady advertising agencies that are monetizing your data and that of your customers without you knowing it.

What if you were an apparel company… and your data was being mined or sold to your competitor?  Who owns that?  Welcome to the shady world of Facebook.

What can you take to prevent this from happening?

First of all, know who you give admin access to.  It’s time for you to go in and do some housekeeping.  Fired an employee?  Remove them. Someone quit?  Get rid of them.  Old ad agency?  Adios.

Aside from that… ask questions about data mining before you hire a company.

And build into the contract a stipulation that they cannot access this data without your explicit permission.

Facebook Users

What would you say if I told you that I know your bra size?  Who you voted for?  What your favorite brand of cereal is?  How much you spend on booze?  You’d think I was “Big Brother,” right?

Everyone SWEARS their phone is listening to them.  One minute you’re talking to your wife in your house about how you need to pick up diapers … and then POW – you get an ad for diapers on Instagram.  It’s not Alexa.  It’s not SIRI.  But it’s also not in your head.  It’s really happening.  So … how?

Here’s the secret.  Your phone doesn’t need to listen to you.  We already know EVERYTHING about you.

Today … a “tell all” that’s probably going to freak you out and make you want to disappear from the grid.

Want to know the truth?  You’ve given this info to marketers like me.  It’s information that you actually WANT people like me to have.

Follow me for a minute.  You complain about privacy, right?  But you checked in at the hospital on Facebook when you went into labor and told everyone you were seven centimeters dilated and that baby Joey was on the way.

That’s right.  You are pissed about Russia being able to target you with ads … but you have no problem telling the WORLD about your cervix.  AND about the fact that you probably won’t be home for the next few days and have lots of brand new baby products just sitting there waiting to be burglarized.

Guys – I know EVERYTHING about you.  And that’s why we spend millions of dollars a year on social media advertising.

And you actually WANT us to know everything.  That’s why you buy so much stuff.  Those shoes you were looking at and then forgot to buy … but you were reminded by that ad.

The protein powder you’re running low on.

The flowers for your anniversary… thank God that flowers ad popped up, right?  It’s almost as if they KNOW.

Hint:  they do.

You’re probably getting angry at me right now.  But don’t blame me.  I’m not the one sharing all of that information about you and then forcing you to buy those products.  That’s on you.

But before you click off of this article because it’s scary and makes you angry … let me help you understand how this all works.

Because it’s not JUST about what you look at online.  No, it’s so much more.

Remember how you scanned your grocery store card so you could get those discounts?

Remember how you clicked “Agree” on the Apple and Netflix and Hulu and every other privacy policy in the world just so you could watch your show or listen to your music?

Remember how you used your clothing store credit card for that extra 20%?

Remember how you signed up for that subscription?  Downloaded that app?  Marked “married” online?  Donated to that cause?  Supported that non-profit?  Used the coffee shop app to buy your coffee?  Created that music playlist?  Bought that house?  Bought that car?  Signed up for that insurance policy?  Took that job?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, THANK YOU.  More information to target you with, my dears.

Listen.  I’m sick of everyone complaining about Russia buying ads or politicians using data.  The bigger problem is that YOU were more than happy to GIVE AWAY that data.

So the next time you read about headlines from something like the Cambridge Analytics files… remember – the only person responsible for your privacy … is YOU.

WHY?

Why, as an advertising man, would I blow the whistle?  Spill the secrets?  Tell the world about how we’re secretly targeting them without them – or the media – knowing?

It’s simple.

I’m a patriot.

Facebook is starting to weaponize this data against you.  They’re shutting down pages they don’t agree with politically.  They’re lying to companies to get them to spend money on advertising.  And they are one of the greatest threats to a free democracy because they now control so much of the messaging in society.

Nobody is reporting on it… so we will.

Help us spread the word. Enough is enough.

Kyle S. Reyes is the founder of The Whiskey Patriots, Chief Executive Officer of The Silent Partner Marketing, and the National Spokesman for Law Enforcement Today. Reyes is also an acclaimed keynote speaker on patriotism and leadership, entrepreneurship and marketing by storytelling. You can follow him on Facebook.