Last year, the idea that Mark Zuckerberg could run for president in 2020 and seek to lead the world’s most powerful country was becoming credible, as there were a lot of people who said it, writes The Economist.
But everything changed quickly because today, Facebook’s founder is struggling to show that he is capable of leading the world’s eighth largest company or that any of its 2.1 billion users should continue to trust him.
Recent news that Cambridge Analytica (CA), a firm associated with President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, has gotten access to 50 million Facebook users in suspicious, perhaps illegal ways, has caused a scary storm.
Mr. Zuckerberg spoke five days after the announcement was made public, and at that moment he acknowledged that Facebook had in the past had not properly supported his users, but he seemed to be surprised by the fact that his business was facing a huge crisis of loss of trust from social network users.
After months of talks that such news could be just fake, politicians in Europe and those in America are seeing Facebook as out of control they had before. Therefore Congress wants him to testify and even hear a strong self-criticism from him.
From the moment this news was released, frightened investors sold 9 percent of their shares on Facebook. A large number of consumers are only now aware of the risk of submitting their data to technology giants. According to the research center, Pew, there are too many Americans who do not trust social networking firms. Therefore Mr.Zuckerberg and his industry have to change, but as soon as possible.
Facebook’s business relies on three elements:
- Keeping users behind their screens.
- Collecting data about their behavior.
- Persuading advertisers to pay billions of dollars to get them through certain ads.
One of the main goals of the firm is to promote the materials that attract the attention and sales of advertisements to anyone who wants to advertise on this platform.
The culture of this company consists of a combination of the fiery desire to earn as much as possible and a belief in its virtue, where Mark Zuckerberg stands.This is not the first time that Facebook is involved in a scandal. A similar one was in 2013 when a well-known British academician created an application in the form of a questionnaire. 270,000 Facebook users answered to that.
But this group of 270 thousand users had another 50 million friends and unfortunately, all their data was taken from CA. According to The Economist, CA was a market research project.
Facebook then stated that this would not happen again and how the British professor that dealt with the creation of the application and the CA violated the pre-set rules. But, each of them denies the fact that they have done something wrong.
Regulators in both Europe and America have launched investigations. Facebook itself was aware of such a problem in 2015 but decided not to tell this to its users. Although no one knows how much the CA’s profit was after the successful election campaign closing of Mr. Trump. People’s reaction and mistrust increased, especially among left-wing supporters. They have voiced that he has not won these elections fairly.
The ultimate scandal fits best with a model that has not only violated the privacy of users but also reluctant to accept its mistakes.
At the beginning of 2017, Zuckerberg rejected the idea of CA’s co-operation during the electoral campaign of Mr. Trump. He described it as not just a false news, but also as a “crazy news”.
In September, Facebook said the Kremlin-linked firms had spent $ 100,000 to buy 3,000 ads on its platform, but being rushed and not paying any attention, he said around 150 million had first seen ads and free posts by Russian operators.
He has also deceived advertisers steadily about user statistics.
Facebook is not going to shut down, but the possibilities of a real regulatory response are growing more and more.
In this way, Europe is operating by setting digital taxes and even going to antitrust cases. On the other hand, a large number of users who have lost trust are closing their accounts on this social network. In America, the number of users in this network has not increased since 2017. Its share in America’s digital advertising market is forecast to mark a decline for the first time this year.
The network effect that made Facebook attractive to new members by directly influencing the increase in the number of users may function precisely against it if that number begins to decrease significantly. Facebook’s value is estimated at $ 493 billion, but only $ 14 billion in physical assets.
Restitution of Faith.
If Mr. Zuckerberg wants to behave fairly as with users and his company, initially he needs to restore the lost faith.
So far, he has promised to accept audit on some applications, limit access to developer access to user data, and help users understand what applications they can receive their data.
But that is not enough. Facebook’s content, the privacy it uses to retain its user data, and its role in the 2016 election and the Brex referendum, should be fully and independently audited. And all this should be made public.
Every year, Facebook must publish a report on its behavior that defines everything, from fake newsletters to privacy violations. Not only Facebook but also other technology companies need to be shown as transparent and above all, to provide a safe service. They should create a body such as the People’s lawyer and call it the Board of Rights on Data.
Part of the work of this body would be to establish and enforce the rules by which independent accredited researchers have the opportunity to look inside the platforms but without threatening the privacy of the users.
Software development is taking place with the above principle in mind. Facebook likes raise big questions, so the Board or something similar would act as a sort of “arbitrator” for complaints and a volunteer protector of maintaining and fine-tuning the privacy data protocol.
Facebook, for example, is planning to operate around the world in accordance with some of the measures of a new European law, known as the “The General Data Protection Regulation“. Among other things, this will give the users more power to protect themselves from internet tracking and to stop giving their personal data to third parties. But the implementation of such rules should be closely monitored.
Over the years, technology has created an experience for acting collectively and solving problems.
Standards for hardware and software, as well as the naming of internet domains, agreed to act together on the same line. Facebook rivals can be cautious, but if the industry does not provide a common solution, taking government austerity measures will be inevitable.
Facebook thinks they only need an upgrade. But in fact, other companies that control consumer data should also consider the fact that their whole business model may be at risk.
As users are increasingly informed, the alchemy of receiving data against any payment and above all, manipulating them for various benefits may no longer exist.
Companies can compensate users for receiving their data. If Facebook will function as a regulated enterprise with its return on equity, revenue may fall by 80%. What do you intend to do, Mr. Zuckerberg?