Facebook: a falling reputation?
Read here 10 serious accusations faced by Mark Zuckerberg’s company that is destroying its reputation.
Facebook is currently one of the most famous American online social media and social networking service company. Founded by Mark Zuckerberg, in 2004, it is considered one of the Big Four technology companies along with Amazon, Apple, and Google. In recent years, as the startup has become a giant and has begun to incorporate other companies (Instagram, WhatsApp), this has also started to accumulate a series of accusations, especially related to security of information, lack of control of what can be posted in the social media, as well as the transparency of the organization’s business. As described by The Economist, Facebook faces a reputational meltdown. After all, is Facebook the good guy or bad guy? See below a dossier with 10 accusations, faced by Mark Zuckerberg, that are destroying the Facebook reputation and draw your conclusions:
1. Spreading hate speech and falsehoods
In total, it estimates about 40,000 Rohingya in India. But anti-Rohingya hate speech and falsehoods in Facebook have spread in India, where this social media has 340 million users. It has been creating the potential for violence in tinderbox regions like West Bengal, a Hindu-majority state with a substantial Muslim population. Despite substantial evidence that it was leading to mass killings, rape and the destruction of villages, Facebook ignored dehumanizing anti-Rohingya propaganda on its pages.
After United Nations investigators criticized Facebook last year for playing a “determining role” in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and the flight of 700,000 refugees, Mark Zuckerberg told the United States Senate: “What’s happening in Myanmar is a terrible tragedy, and we need to do more.” (source: nytimes.com)
2. Influencing elections using users personal data
The data analytics company — owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon — that worked with Donald Trump’s election and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles data and used them to build a powerful software, that predict and influence choices at the ballot box. A company employee, who worked to obtain the data, said: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”
Facebook denies that the harvesting of tens of millions of profiles by GSR and Cambridge Analytica was a data breach. (source: theguardian.com)
3. Auto-generating ‘terrorist videos’
Although, Facebook claims that eliminated extremist material from the social network, it auto-generated videos celebrating jihadist material and promoting terrorist “business pages”. A five months study of 3,000 pages observed that terror groups were being helped by Facebook’s algorithms. It was generating “memories” and video celebrations including battle scenes and Islamic state flags. Nazi and white supremacist organisations also remained active.
Facebook announced that was cracking down on the issue with the help of artificial intelligence, but admitted that its systems “were not perfect”. (source: telegraph.co.uk)
4. Promoting discrimination via a targeting
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development have accused Facebook of discrimination of using its targeted advertising to limit who sees postings for certain kinds of housing. The targeted advertising “unlawfully discriminates based on race, colour, national origin, religion, familial status, sex and disability” by restricting who can view housing-related ads. Facebook also would have enabled advertisers to exclude people classified as parents, non-US-born, non-Christian, interested in Hispanic culture or otherwise segmented in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Facebook may be facing some charge about this on the court. (source: news.com.au)
5. Conducting mass surveillance through its apps
Documents published by a US parliamentary committee revealed that Facebook had deliberately made it “as hard as possible” for users to be aware of privacy changes to its Android app. (source: bbc.com)
“Facebook continued to explore and implement ways to track users” location, to track and read their texts, to access and record their microphones on their phones, to track and monitor their usage of competitive apps on their phones, and to track and monitor their calls,” one court document says. (source: theguardian.com)
6. Blocking wider efforts to study its ad platform
Facebook was accused of obstructing the ability of independent researchers to adequately study how political disinformation runs its ad platform. A review done by the tool by not-for-profit Mozilla rated that the current Facebook API design “puts huge constraints on researchers, rather than allowing them to discover what is really happening on the platform,” suggesting the various limitations imposed by Facebook — including search-rate limits — means it could take researchers “months” to evaluate ads in a particular region or on a certain topic. (source: techcrunch.com)
7. Destroying local entrepreneur’s business
Some small companies have been running into conflict with Facebook after basing its business model around the tech platform. Operators have found that sudden algorithm changes have dramatically affected their businesses. An Australian startup, that denies any breach of Facebook’s operating conditions and had its access cut off, says that it “was unconscionable and will substantially lessen competition in the social media marketing space”, causing significant adverse reputational and financial harm. (source: smh.com.au)
8. Censuring independent publisher pages
Publishers have been wary of Facebook and to focus instead on diversifying their traffic sources. In addition to the impact on publishers with drops in traffic, Facebook is closing down some independent publisher pages completely. The purge appears aimed at alternative news sites that specialise in wellness, nutrition, lifestyle balance, and meditation/spirituality. (source: whatsnewinpublishing.com)
9. Insider trading
Facebook executives have been hit with a complaint accusing them of insider trading. The more infamous form of insider trading is the illegal use of non-public material information for profit. Weeks before Facebook’s latest struggles and its shares drop, top Facebook executives had coincidentally sold shares. Facebook declined to comment about the scheduled insider selling and the share-price decline. (source: cnbc.com)
10. Sharing users’ personal data
Emails by Facebook’s chief and his deputies proves that Facebook struck secret deals to give some developers special access to user data while refusing others, according to Documents published by a US parliamentary committee (source: bbc.com).
New York Times revealed that for years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies (including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify and Yandex) more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules (source: nytimes.com).
Overall, Facebook has been trying to resolve the accusations faced during the last years But it is likely that despite the effort the image continues to clutter, especially when it comes to information security. Only over the years will we be able to verify how much of these problems affected the image of this giant organization.