Please watch this 3min video first –> FRONTLINE: Facebook Dilemma
Synopsis – The promise of Facebook was to create a more open and connected world. But from the company’s failure to protect millions of users’ data, to the proliferation of “fake news” and disinformation, mounting crises have raised the question: Is Facebook more harmful than helpful? On Monday, Oct. 29, and Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, FRONTLINE presents The Facebook Dilemma. This major, two-night event investigates a series of warnings to Facebook as the company grew from Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to a global empire. With dozens of original interviews and rare footage, The Facebook Dilemma examines the powerful social media platform’s impact on privacy and democracy in the U.S. and around the world.
This topic is so apropos to our Social Media Innovation course I had to write a post about it!
In the video, it says “The promise of Facebook was to create a more open and connected world” and this is no small feat. Working for a global organization myself, I know that privacy can mean different things to different cultures. I’m sure that in order to achieve this mission, Facebook will need a crystal clear understanding of how Facebook will and won’t be used within the boundaries of each society. This is major!
Facebook has been in the hot seat a lot the past couple of years and some consider them “in the midst of one of the worst handled crises in the history of modern business.” As we learned from the Nespresso case study and from our class discussions it appears that Facebook has infringed a few of the basic rules of handling a social media/PR crisis. First, the top person must speak out immediately. Second, the top person must accept responsibility for the problem. And third, the firm must over-correct. After five long days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally appeared on media platforms to apologize and vowed to set things right. (We’re all still waiting to see that…) But I think it’s unnerving how much Facebook lacks any degree accountability for the social problems that its business may be causing.
Something thing I found intriguing in the video is when someone states that “Facebook is the greatest experiment of free speech in human history”. As defined by Wikipedia,
freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one’s opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment. “Speech” is not limited to public speaking and is generally taken to include other forms of expression. The right is preserved in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations. Nonetheless the degree to which the right is upheld in practice varies greatly from one nation to another. In many nations, particularly those with authoritarian forms of government, overt government censorship is enforced. Censorship has also been claimed to occur in other forms and there are different approaches to issues such as hate speech, obscenity, and defamation laws.
See Freedom of Speech by Country here.
Where am I going with this? Well even if Facebook is not a government it is a podium for voices around the world. And it begs the question, at what point should there be exceptions to free expression? Another layer of complexity is that while Facebook gives the user free will to do whatever they want to on their site/app, in reality, the data that is being shared with Facebook is actually compromised. Many have suggested when Facebook’s revenue was flatlining they started to ramp up their data collection on users to help aid the situation. No wonder they’ve had several data and privacy issues! I feel that if Facebook wants to survive long-term, the company needs to recalculate its strategy with advertising, data and protecting its 2.2 billion users.
I can’t wait to watch this exposé!