Launch into Leadership

Dislike: Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Tim Bennett

Before the 2016 election, Facebook users were harvested like low hanging fruit, ripe for the picking, for corruption and lies. The company responsible, Cambridge Analytica— headed by President Donald Trump’s ex-key advisor Steve Bannon—lied to the tech giant and managed to swindle millions of users’ personal data, which they twisted into a system to politically profile U.S. voters, placing targets on their backs for politically charged advertisements. These ads were then used to help the Trump campaign manipulate a psychological road straight into the White House.

Since the news broke in early 2018, Facebook’s co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has frequently come under fire for the policies in place that were intended to protect their millions of users.

Zuckerberg appeared before Congress on April 9 where he said, “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

Since then, the company has promised to change their ways by building its own security team, doubling down on the number of eyes reviewing content by the end of the year, banning some external apps and making it harder to find its users through a simple Google search. But Facebook has been making such promises for well over a decade. Only time will tell if these steps will be enough.

The Pew Research Center says, over half of Facebook’s users 18 years and older are thinking twice about their relationship with the social media giant. Forty-two percent of users have taken long breaks or stopped checking the app altogether. Facebook has been completely deleted from 26 percent of users’ phones. After months and months of news cycles depicting lies, political scandals and privacy breaches by tech companies (I’m looking at you, Equifax), people are fed up with the misuse and fumbles of their private information.

This summer, Facebook’s stock dropped 7 percent—that’s over $120 billion in valuation. It’s the most significant drop in its shares since the company went public in 2012.

Let’s be honest, Facebook isn’t what it was 14 years ago. I remember when you needed a valid “.edu” email address to have an account. After university students from all across the country were logged in, Facebook became the hot spot for college students to meet and become Facebook friends. People used to log in just to check-in their location or poke their friends, even though no one really knew what the point of that mechanic was. Facebook was fun; the social experiment was a success.

Now everyone from your high school crush, to your aunts, uncles and grandparents, are on Facebook. Thanks to the network’s global popularity,younger users no longer have the ability to freely post on the site. Facebook is losing its appeal to its younger users—in essence, too many adults are on the site. Instead, teens are flocking to Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram where their parents can’t be found.

Keep in mind that not too long ago, MySpace was the hottest spot on the internet, Netflix was known for mail-out DVD rentals and just about every neighborhood had a local Blockbuster Video. Facebook has been around for 14 years, which feels like a lifetime in the digital age. In our world of constantly evolving technology, could this sudden drop in users—due to a lack of trust—be the end of Facebook?

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