How does the Facebook data scandal impact higher ed advancement?

One of the hottest topics at this year’s CASE conferences has been paid social, the use of targeted social media advertising. More and more schools have begun running Facebook and Instagram ads to reach their current students and alumni in a high-scale, cost-effective manner. Then, the Cambridge Analytica scandal made global headlines, sending the digital landscape into a panic. What does this all mean for Facebook as a company, for users, and for higher ed?

What’s been going on:


  • An app developer accessed Facebook users’ data by building a personality quiz that required participants to grant the app access to a wide range of personal data about themselves and their Facebook friends
  • This developer then gave the information to Cambridge Analytica, who lied about deleting the files and continued to use the data for their own intentions
  • As a result of this revealed misuse and backlash, Facebook has begun enacting more controls on data usage and is currently reviewing privacy policies as well as app access to data
Who is most affected by these Facebook changes:


  • Companies that provide 3rd party data (Oracle, Axiom, etc.)
  • Brands that implement 3rd party data targeting via Facebook’s Partner Categories within their marketing campaigns
  • The general public, which might have a lower level of trust in digital data
So… will this cause problems for advancement teams wanting to run Facebook ads to fundraise and engage alumni? In short, it won’t. Institutions already have alumni data, such as email addresses and phone numbers, on file. They aren’t purchasing this information from other sources, or targeting their alumni through the use of credit card purchase behaviors. They are simply using their alumni database to promote events, campus news and fundraise on social media just as they do via direct mail, emails or phonebanks. 

At Funderful, we believe that the increased scrutiny of Facebook’s data usage will ultimately benefit both users and marketers alike, making it an even safer place for them to communicate. To protect your personal data privacy, we do recommend that Facebook users review what access they have granted in their App and Website settings (found here) to remove any apps that they no longer use. We understand that this story, and Facebook’s response to it, is complicated and rapidly changing.

Our team is committed to continue monitoring the situation and ensure that our clients’ campaigns will continue to abide by Facebook’s policies and best practices as the platform strives to renew the public’s trust.

Annika Jensen, Director of Customer Strategy & Success

Annika Jensen, Director of Customer Strategy & Success at Funderful - Annika is Funderful’s resident strategic campaign planning expert, joining the team after working in the social media, digital and experiential marketing space for 6+ years, with brand experience in entertainment, education, and consumer packaged goods. Her expertise in managing effective advertising across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest & Snapchat stems from having run paid social campaigns in excess of $10M.

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