Facebook has had a difficult few months, and with its escalating affiliation with fake news and data breaches, the digital giant has tried to reform to put a stop to user migration and brand safety concerns. But is it enough?
Following the electoral shocks of Trump and Brexit, eyes turned on Facebook for allowing the proliferation of ‘Fake News’ on the platform. Some even alleged that social media was becoming a direct threat to democracy, which seemed justified when Zuckerberg was hauled in front of the US Congress for allowing the personal data of 87 million people to be improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica and used to influence voters.
The company’s CEO called what happened a “huge mistake” and hurriedly changed the way apps and third-party data providers such as Axciom and Experian could extract user information from the platform. Facebook even went as far as to launch a print campaign assuring people that under the new GDPR regulations the data they hold would be better protected.
However, the universal feeling seems to be that this is too little, too late, and how Facebook can act like it deserves a big pat on the back for simply obeying the new EU data protection laws seems slightly baffling. Facebook knew of Cambridge Analytica’s activities in 2015 and refused to act. With the news this week that Martin Lewis is suing them for allowing improper use of his image by fraudulent companies, it really drives home the main point that the company has to take more responsibility as a publisher.
After watching what happened to YouTube and the Daily Mail with the Stop Funding Hate Campaign, Facebook has reason to be worried. Advertisers, (particularly in digital) feel strongly averse to any risk of appearing in potentially offensive, inappropriate or even ethically-questionable environments.
Wetherspoons recently took the controversial step to abandon its social media channels and distribute content only through its website and magazine. This triggered quite a large debate, ironically on social media, with many calling the move madness. But Wetherspoons’ logic was ‘why bother with it?’ On average, the company’s tweets this year got six retweets and four likes; given that it sells three million pints a week, it clearly isn’t an effective way of communicating with customers.
This however is a view on the organic use of social media platforms by brands; for paid media, meanwhile, Facebook remains almost unparalleled in terms of reach and cost efficiency.
At the height of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, 93% of Brits were aware of the story and yet only 6% planned on deleting their accounts.
It remains a key platform to communicate with the public. They do, however, need to take their role as content moderators and publishers far more seriously – or they risk losing this status.