If you have not seen the news regarding the dramatic drop in the value of Facebook stock, then you might want to turn your head a bit, slightly to the right. Facebook lost over $100 billion (yes, with a “B”) in a single day. This is almost incomprehensible. When we are talking about billions of dollars, there might be some real money involved.
Why did this happen? Was it the death of a key Facebook executive, a major scandal of some variety, an earthquake in California that wiped out all of its servers? An alien invasion?
It is most likely that Facebook, in an effort to appease its captive users, got caught between two competing interests, neither of which is a winning move toward prosperity. On the one hand, Facebook betrayed the collective trust and exposed a massive quantity of user data to a third party who promptly violated all protections. It is fair to say there is a large percentage of folks who do not like (a) being lied to and/or (b) being used. So Facebook took this data breach semi-seriously and assured its loyal followers that it would move toward securing more privacy, if that ever was a priority in the first place.
On the other hand, Facebook made a change to its news algorithm in an effort to “protect” users from “hate speech” and “fake news.” Well, who wouldn’t be in favor of getting rid of all fake news? More rightly, this might be called allowing the media giant to filter news as seen through the lens of the keeper of the all-important algorithm. What is not to like?
So there we have it: privacy and “good” news. Done and done, as controlled by Facebook.
Taking the issue of privacy, simply put, there needs to be trust in order for one to allow personal information to be stored on Facebook servers. There are those like me who have never trusted Facebook and thus never have had an account, which equates to no trust. Then there are billions of others who chose to be connected to “friends” and entrusted much in personal data to the social media company – that is, until there was a breach of confidentiality, and the trust was gone. Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose, even if you promise to do better in the future.
Next we have Facebook news. Mark Zuckerberg recently added, “We try to design algorithms that just map to what people are actually telling us is meaningful to them.” Good for you and your users, Mark. As for the rest of us, let us choose what we want to read and leave the algorithms at the door.
This is the crux of the matter. Facebook claims that it can bring more and more people together, and yet it chooses to exclude the voices of those it disagrees with via some “magic” algorithm. All this in an effort to keep the “bad” actors from offending or angering many of us who disagree. We all risk being offensive when we speak to others. Frankly, many Americans are just plain tired of being told we are being offensive with every thought and phrase and thus are more inclined to speak out with reckless abandon. Offensiveness be damned!
Let’s be clear: the progressive agenda is alive and well at Facebook and deliberately blocks out conservative viewpoints whenever possible. More importantly, Facebook wants to eliminate “fake news.” If that were the case, the likes of CNN would never appear anywhere on the platform.
So Facebook loses big, and by many accounts, it likely will continue to lose in the coming years. Can it be turned around? Can the ship be righted? Possibly. Facebook would need to hire conservative thinkers who could get a piece of Zuckerberg’s stubborn ear. If he is smart, he will hate the message but will listen to the “new” wisdom with stone-cold respect. Otherwise, the coming catastrophe will be of titanic proportions.
Here is a litmus test that Facebook should use: aspire to get this “old” conservative husband and father of two to sign up for Facebook for the first time. Let it be stressed that many things at Facebook would have to be changed before that became a reality. The changes would have to be agreed to by both parties, executed, verified, and monitored. Tall price to pay for trust.
Hey, Facebook: I offer my consulting services. It is best to reach me by phone or email, as my Facebook account is, well, nonexistent.
By: John R. Smith