Facebook takes one step forward, one step back in SKorea

Facebook is courting a number of South Korea’s leading businesses in an attempt to grow its relatively low number of users (2.3 million) in the country, according to an article from Bernama.

Korea remains one of a handful of Asian markets where the social network isn’t dominant, with the Japanese and Chinese markets two other notable targets due to population size and the popularity of social networking.

By looking to businesses, Facebook is hoping that top Korean firms like LG will begin utilising Facebook for marketing campaigns with the knock-on effect of more members and active users coming to the platform.

Facebook has strong ties with businesses across the world thanks to its simple yet effective set-up for companies which includes its ‘groups’ and advertising services.

From the Bernama article:


Right now, we are interested in introducing Facebook to marketers in South Korea,” Stephen Dolan, commercial director for Facebook’s Singapore office, told Yonhap on the sidelines of a conference in Seoul.

“At the moment, we’re mainly talking to chaebols, to Samsung, Hyundai, Kia, LG,” he said, listing the name of South Korea’s top business conglomerates owned by families.

Apparently driven by Facebook’s efforts to woo Korean enterprises, LG Electronics Inc., consumer electronics giant and the world’s third-largest maker of mobile phones, said it built its nest on Facebook this week, letting users write messages on its profile page. LG Electronics previously focused on an official blog and Twitter.

Samsung Group, the parent group of Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest technology company by sales, operates several Facebook accounts for its affiliates. Its Samsung Group account lured more than 100,000 fans, meaning users who pressed the “like” button on its Facebook page.

An online book distributor, an air carrier, a retailer and a mobile operator in South Korea have also tapped Facebook as its new marketing tool. A much larger number of domestic enterprises, however, are counting on Twitter service, hosting promotional and marketing activities by sending short messages to their subscribers.

At the same time, however, Facebook has received a blow to its efforts in Korea with news that it has been found to have breached the country’s privacy laws in the way it gathers data from its users.
More details come from All Facebook:
The social network needs to make more of an effort to obtain consent from users when requesting personal information, the Korea Communications Commission said. The KCC filed a formal complaint to Facebook and gave it 30 days to reply, according to the IDG News Service.

IDG said the KCC criticized Facebook’s privacy policy and how the company handles personal information, including sharing that data with third parties.

South Korea appears to have stricter regulations on privacy than the U.S. does. Law requires user consent before said party’s personal information may be collected by a service provider. Apparently, this appears in Article 22 of the country’s Act on Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Information Protection.
So while it is making progress bringing big, influential names in to support it, it remains to be seen how the issue of privacy – its Achilles-heel – and this court case will affect new sign-ups and activity generated by marketing activity from the likes of LG and Samsung.
It seems likely that communicating greater awareness of privacy settings and issues with data online would be a logical and productive move. One thing Facebook does have going for it is that is often takes criticism over privacy issues so is well-versed dealing with them.