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At a New York Privacy Pop-Up, Facebook Sells Itself

The one-day pop-up kiosk is meant to show that Facebook takes users’ privacy concerns seriously. It also was an opportunity to gather more data.

If you haven’t heard, 2018 was extremely bad for Facebook. The company was rocked by so many scandals that it’s become hard to list them all in one place. I won’t try here, but I will say it’s equally difficult to determine how much those missteps really matter to Facebook’s billions of users. During a one-day event in New York City on Thursday, the social network got a chance to find out. On the edge of the annual holiday market in Bryant Park, Facebook erected a narrow kiosk, which looked like a mid-century modern shipping container, and filled it with employees ready to answer questions about privacy, ads, and how the company collects your data.

Facebook’s privacy pop-up predictably attracted swarms of journalists. The kiosk is meant to communicate that Facebook is taking concerns over privacy seriously. It was also, of course, an opportunity for the company to push its messaging around the nature of its business model. A friendly-looking sign pinned to a bulletin board helpfully displayed the perennial question: “Does Facebook sell my data?” “No, Facebook does not sell data to advertisers,” it answered, next to a cartoon of a padlock.

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