As more problems came to flood Facebook, more and more people are raising their concerns. Lead by prominent figures and celebrities, users have started voicing their decisions to stop using the social media network. In a report from Bloomberg, the tech firm’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed some interesting insights.
The aforementioned Facebook chief executive, who criticised for months by lawmakers, privacy advocates and some investors, said he was “proud of the progress” they have made, fighting misinformation and protecting users’ personal data during one of the company’s most tumultuous years.
“To be clear, addressing these issues is more than a one-year challenge,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “For some of these issues, like election interference or harmful speech, the problems can never fully be solved.”
This year was one of constant apologies for the social network, after multiple instances of broken trust with its users. Zuckerberg testified for the first time in front of the US Congress in April, explaining why the platform allowed users’ data to fall into the hands of unauthorised third parties.
In his reflection, he made the case that Facebook is now a changed company, and will be more proactive about problems.
“We’ve fundamentally altered our DNA to focus more on preventing harm in all our services,” he wrote.
The blows to Facebook’s reputation also have hurt the stock, which declined 24 per cent this year through Thursday’s close, while the S&P 500 dropped 6.9 per cent.
In Zuckerberg’s list of things Facebook accomplished in 2018, some remain undone, or already widely critiqued. For example, he writes that the company automatically takes down 99 per cent of terrorist content before anyone reports it, without saying that the statistic only refers to content from Islamic State and al-Qaeda. He also points to a “clear history” tool the company started building. The platform announced the tool in May, but it will still be many months before it rolls out to users.
Earlier this month, Zuckerberg was forced to defend Facebook against emails showing the social media giant offering Netflix and other popular apps preferential access to people’s data even after it had tightened its privacy rules.
Facebook’s market capitalisation almost halved to $383 billion in 2018 after years of uninterrupted growth, while its chief executive lost $17.4bn of his net worth. Criticism reached a peak over the Cambridge Analytica case, during which time Zuckerberg testified before US Congress and said one of his “greatest regrets” was the company’s failure to quickly identify the Russian fake news operation in 2016.
British-based Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump’s election campaign, was shut down this year after further revelations about its possible role in meddling with elections overseas.
In related news, experts are calling for the resignation of Zuckerberg from Facebook. As he has transitioned his public image from the kid cosplaying as a business executive to the no-longer-quite-a-kid cosplaying as a statesman, his personal challenges have become something of a bellwether for how he is thinking about Facebook’s future.
In 2016, when it seemed that Facebook’s challenges were still largely technological, he set out to build his own smart home system. In 2017, when political polarization was still being chalked up to filter bubbles, he embarked on a road trip around the US. And in 2018, when fake news and foreign interference were dominating headlines, he promised to buckle down and “focus on fixing” all of the various “issues” that had left the one-time prodigy looking more and more like a pariah.