28 March 2018

mark zuckerberg facebook I was disappointed to read that Mark Zuckerberg has refused an invitation to give evidence to MPs over the alleged misuse of data.

As the CEO of the firm in question, it is shocking to see Zuckerberg refuse the opportunity to discuss the impact of fake news on UK democracy, even via video link. In my mind it smacks of disrespect and complacency.

Facebook’s reputation has taken a real hit in recent weeks, this could have been an opportunity to show the values of the multi-national corporation and regain some trust from its users. Instead, the impression given by choosing not to testify to the committee gives an entirely different impression.

Without users, Facebook has no value for advertisers and therefore no revenue. It’s astonishing therefore that, following the severity of the incident, Facebook has not had a better response.

Facebook’s response is short-sighted to say the very least

Facebook has been aware of Cambridge Analytica and the allegations since around 2015, and it’s astonishing therefore that they didn’t have a more solid response prepared for the inevitable ‘whistleblowing’ over data use.

Now is the time that the company needs to rebuild trust, to make it clear what happened with Cambridge Analytica and what is happening going forward. Instead, the headlines are centred on Zuckerberg’s reluctance to speak out, accept some level of responsibility and apologise.

Facebook and social media are a huge part of modern life. We entrust these platforms and businesses with more personal data than we often realise. Zuckerberg is one of the greatest drivers of this shift in society toward sharing every aspect of our lives online.

Whilst collecting data and targeting content based upon what you know about a person is standard modern marketing practice. The issue here is that the data has allegedly been used to impact political outcomes. Its impact could raise questions about the very nature of a democracy.

This is a huge social issue and one that Zuckerberg shouldn’t take lightly. Regardless of whether Facebook did anything ‘wrong’ they have a responsibility to protect data and be transparent about how it’s used. Equally they have a responsibility to recognise and prevent the spread of fake news.

If Facebook are to recover from the disaster they find themselves in, their founder needs to shoulder some responsibility, and quickly.

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