Facebook………Friend or Foe

So how many of us are Facebook users? I know I use it and so do a lot of my friends, but recently I have noticed some changes in my pages and with the recent press about it, I am becoming concerned about its security and advertising feeds.

Facebook has been in the press recently and for all the wrong reasons, in particular, the link to Cambridge Analytica which then used the data to push a Brexit agenda. Subliminal messaging is a powerful tool and one that we ignore at our peril.

So, you may be thinking what has Facebook got to do with Financial Services. I undertake extra study and professional research in order to maintain my adviser status. I therefore research life companies, investment houses and investment strategies, often via google. After doing so, and then logging onto Facebook, I have started to notice that that adverts are targeting what I have been looking up. They have links with Google in order to market me directly.

I decided to look at some of these adverts in more detail and was shocked at what I found. I am not the only one, as just this week Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert, is suing Facebook for allowing adverts that have his image on which infers that he is supporting/promoting them. Most of these adverts are for Bitcoin investments, which are a very high-risk investment and quite difficult to understand what is a cryptocurrency and should you have one? Those questions on the adverts are glossed over at best. It reads like the next big thing, great returns and no real mention of the risks involved. I can see why Martin Lewis wants nothing to do with it.

But it wasn’t just investments that had ‘interesting’ adverts on Facebook, Life Assurance features heavily on there, my favourite is “Were you born between 1972 and 1980? You should have life assurance” Really? Why? What does your age alone have to do with it? When I clicked on it for more detail it had fixed levels of cover and a set term, i.e. £100,000 over 5 years. This made the policy really cheap but looking more closely, I discovered this was the first year’s premium only and that it was set to rise year on year. This made the policy very poor value for money which most people will not discover as it was buried in the small print. There was also no explanation as to how one might go about establishing what the right level of cover for individual circumstances is.

I wonder how many people are feeling a touch pressured by this and end up buying these investments or plans as they seem to be the right thing to do. Facebook is full of our friends and family so an advert on there has an extra empathy to us; we are in a comfortable zone when on there so it makes buying an easy thing to do.

It may be a great way of keeping in touch with our friends but I wouldn’t class Facebook as one of them.

Wendy Devlin Dip CII, CeFA, CeMap (MP & ER)

Financial Planner

This information and comment is provided strictly for general consideration only. No action must be taken or refrained from based on its contents alone.