The Google share price took a brief hit after the stories of systemic distortion with regard to on-line advertising metrics, on which I recently blogged. That of Facebook continued to grow. The Twitter shareprice did not recover and continues to drift down.
Now the UK Government has stopped advertising on YouTube and Havas has suspended advertising on both the Google Display Network and YouTube but is continuing to spend on verified search ads. The reason given is the inability to guard against proximity to terrorist recruitment material. It would appear that misleading and/or fraudulent metrics or proximity to other illegal material (e.g. sexual content that would lead prosecution if sourced from within the UK) is of less concern to those in charge of public sector advertising budgets.
The UK public sector is, of course, a piddling market compared to Proctor and Gamble worldwide. The impact of any boycott will be modest provided Google and Facebook can reassure global consumer advertiser that their impact measurement metrics are robust and their brands will not be damaged by proximity to family-hostile material. Those metrics depend, however, on invasive data collection and analysis of a scale and nature that is incompatible with the spirit behind the GDPR. Those who invested in UK and EU Data Centres to cope with the expected post-Snowden Balkanisation of the Internet look set, therefore, to get their reward.
Earlier this week, at my last AGM as an officer of the Conservative Technology Forum, we discussed topics that need to be addressed for a Post-Brexit age, when the prosperity of the UK depends largely on being able to act as a bridge between an increasingly protectionist Festung Europa, a Post Trump United States and the rest of the world. That will entail going for either the world’s highest, or its lowest, practical standards of information governance. Anything between gives no competitive advantage. Since it is impossible to get any lower than those of some of major trading partners who have been able to negotiate “safe harbour” agreements in the past (and are likely to do so again), the obvious way forward is to go for the highest standard. I will be handing my contact lists to those planning a major event to discuss the consequences of doing so.