Facebook Just Keeps On Falling. What Comes Next? | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

21 March, Thursday


Facebook Just Keeps On Falling. What Comes Next?

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Since last July 25, after reaching a high of $218.62, Facebook shares have fallen steadily, yesterday reaching $133.40 in what has proved to be an annus horribilis for the company. Its key role in the manipulation of the US 2016 presidential elections, the genocide in Myanmar, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the hiring of dubious PR companies to defend themselves without showing the minimum remorse, the yellow vests in France, continuous security breaches, selling user data to advertisers and tech companies… it’s hard to find anything positive to say about Facebook’s last 12 months.

The results of this negative spiral are evident: demoralized employees, managers leaving, difficulties attracting talent, losing users, prominent figures disassociating themselves, calls to companies to become Facebook-free or to abandon not just Facebook, but Instagram and WhatsApp as well… the only thing keeping Facebook alive is advertising from companies desperate to get their message over their target segments. Facebook pretty much wrote the book about hyper-segmented advertising, then strangled its customers’ organic reach, forcing them to pay for advertising if they wanted to achieve their goals, and now finds itself with legions of marketing and advertising managers willing to continue paying for campaigns, even as the company hemorrhages users.

All that said, for the moment, neither the collapse of its share price, government law suits or myriad fines are having much effect: it’s not that the company has a problem: the problem is the company itself. Zuckerberg’s promises to fix Facebook have proved hollow, and he has shown himself unprincipled, capable of saying one thing while doing exactly the opposite, continually making hypocritical excuses… Facebook cannot be trusted, but that’s hardly surprising when one remembers Zuckerberg’s 2006 description of users who entrusted their data to him as “dumb fucks”: raw material worthy of no respect or commitment and whose can be bought and sold freely, and then when he gets caught out, a simple “Ooops!” is supposed to suffice. The problem is not Facebook, but a business model based on the principle of anything goes. Not even getting rid of Zuckerberg, which would never happen, would purge an organization created around the normalization of the unacceptable.

Where does Facebook go from here? Even in what seems like a death spiral, the company is still a money-making machine, thanks to its hordes of advertisers. Getting these companies to give up on a channel they see as the ideal medium for many of their strategies would be hard, perhaps impossible. Similarly, whatever some people say, the company isn’t going to change its business model, and even if it said it had, who would believe Facebook now? Could we see a return to the original idea of social networks, places where we could hang out and be ourselves? Will we replace social networks with personal websites, effectively creating “our own personal Facebook” that plays by our rules? Will Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook era be remembered as nothing more than a latter-day roaring twenties, a time when so-called influencers could get away with murder?

Enrique Dans, Ph.D.

 

Forbes

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