What Facebook can do to recover credibility as it faces the current data crisis involving Cambridge Analytica
BY: Michelle Barthole (MBA 2019)
“It’s not you…it’s me.”
This cliché, disingenuous, and unoriginal phrase has burned many of us. What hurts the most about hearing it is that the person uttering those dreadful words did not even have the decency to be authentic with you as they said their final goodbyes.
As many of us said our final goodbyes to Facebook, we could not help but hope Mark Zuckerberg would find the words to make us stay. We wanted him to remind us of when we felt excited and passionate about Facebook, the company who was at the forefront of social change and the ideal platform for communication among the masses globally. Facebook was badass. The company waited years before allowing advertisements on their site, so that customers had an organic experience, and created a new prosperous economic market that created jobs for many.
As I read Zuckerberg’s response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal I could not help but ask myself, where did things start to go wrong? Zuckerberg’s response via Facebook post lacked boldness and authenticity. He mentioned that most actions to increase security were already taken in 2014 and that more processes are being implemented to make Facebook safer and more secure. These steps offer no drastic changes to current strategy, but simply provide options to opt out of sharing data easier and allows Facebook to better monitor advertiser activity. My impression of his note was that it was written with one primary stakeholder in mind–investors. An increase on restrictions with Facebooks millions of advertisers could mean a loss of revenue for the company, and Zuckerberg’s article sounds like reassurance that investors do not need to fear this. Although appeasing investors may be an appropriate PR approach for other industries, in the social networking business I feel the user is the most important stakeholder and this response completely neglects the user’s need for trust.
We, Facebook’s passionate and loyal followers, who are contemplating deleting our accounts, want to know that Facebook is just as outraged at the betrayal of trust from Cambridge Analytica as we are; and that the company is going to fight to see justice served because this violates everything Facebook stands for. We are craving for CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to speak from the heart and show some rage about the inappropriate actions taken by Facebook’s partners. We want him to admit the company needs help when it comes to properly prosecuting partners who breach user data terms. We wanted to see proof that Facebook still cares, but instead we heard generic, cold, and frankly disappointing corporate fluff.
While outrage and new policies may not be what investors are seeking, the social platform is dependent on users trusting and believing in the brand for long term survival. Zuckerberg was aware of the importance of loyal users at the birth of Facebook and must not forget that his users are his products. If some investors decide to leave, funding business may become more difficult, however if the website’s users leave there will be no business left to fund.
Since it looks like my relationship with Facebook is coming to an end, I have one last reminder for Mr. Zuckerberg, “You don’t know a good thing until it’s gone.”