There’s no doubt about it: 2018 is a terrible year for Facebook. In just weeks, Facebook – a platform with more than 1 billion users – was forced to answer questions about blatant political bias and the misuse of users’ personal information.
Now, with a plummeting stock price and billions in lost valuation, they have been forced to advertise on other platforms, hoping to win back the same people they alienated.
Here are some examples of digital ads Facebook has been forced to run. Just months ago, this type of campaign would have been unimaginable, as Facebook was itself the world’s premier advertising platform.
This is a paid effort on 3rd party sites, as Facebook tries to grab former users’ attention. One ad begs, “See the latest from friends and family on Facebook!”
Other ads encourage people to create a profile. It would have been hard to imagine last year that anyone didn’t already have a Facebook profile.
To be fair, Facebook has run third-party ad campaigns in the past, but it does seem odd how frequently these new ads are appearing. The “#DeleteFacebook” campaign could have added to the damage after it became a trending hashtag on Twitter. People are publicly announcing their decision to delete Facebook and do their best to scrape the platform of all personal information (which is VERY difficult and time-consuming!).
Famous Actor Will Ferrell, a Hollywood liberal, joined the #DeleteFacebook movement and announced on Twitter, “I can no longer, in good conscience, use the services of a company that allowed the spread of propaganda and directly aimed it at those most vulnerable.”
Ferrell continued: “I know I am not alone when I say that I was very disturbed to hear about Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of millions of Facebook users’ information in order to undermine our democracy and infringe on our citizens’ privacy.”
Of course, Facebook’s misuse of data predates Cambridge Analytica. The platform turned over all user data, along with friend-associated data, to the Obama campaign in 2012, then quietly turned off access to put Republicans at a technological disadvantage.
In a full-page apology (ironically, in print newspapers), Mark Zuckerberg pledged to take action: “This was a breach of trust and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. I promise to do better for you.”
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was highly critical of Facebook’s mismanagement of user information on a free platform. After all, it’s the use of that data which pays Facebook’s bills.
Zuckerberg, who has seen the multi-billion dollar impact this scandal has caused, fired back at Cook: “You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth.”
Social networks have plenty of positive uses. They allow you to stay connected with friends and family, and they allow people to share opinions and information on a diverse range of topics.
But social media giants like Facebook must protect privacy and free speech, especially for conservatives who have been marginalized on their platform. They are trying to micromanage the views of individuals, instead of treating users with respect. That needs to change.
Have you seen these ads appearing on other websites and apps? Please tell us in the comments (below).