Saturday, June 27, 2020
Oh, you done messed up FB.
After recent backlash from social media news making the waves for not doing enough to halt circulating speech that promotes divisiveness many companies have decided to pull funding temporarily.
Some have stopped ads on the platform for the rest of the month while others are even stopping advertising for much of the remaining part of the year.
Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Unilever PLC, P&G, Patagonia, Sonos, Verizon Communications Inc, Upwork, The North Face, Recreational Equipment Inc (REI), and Sleeping Giants, Ben & Jerry’s, Eddie Bauer, Mozilla, and Magnolia Pictures, Honda, Birchbox, Levi Strauss & Company, Lululemon, Dashlane, Eileen Fisher, Goodby Silverstein, Rakuten Viber.
#StopHateForProfit is a trending hash tag which is coordinated by the Anti-Defamation League, Sleeping Giants, Free Press, and Color of Change and Common Sense. The goal is to stop monetization of misinformation (basically social media getting paid bucks for clickbait and “fear pr0n” to get people to engage on their platforms. More heated debate and engagement means more time spent on the platform. Like that Star Wars meme: Fear leads to anger… Anger leads to doobies, doobies lead to twinkies… Whaatz up?! ~Superfriends reference.)
This additional trending movement comes from civil rights groups in the US protesting injustice. The goal is to discourage misinformation and divisive speech as well as propaganda.
Naturally these and other social media sites have been slightly affected by the news. Stock shares tumbled some during the week.
The partnering companies are stating that they are seeking an “acceptable solution”. This is to make them comfortable with being a partner and be consistent with agreement policies since according to Independent.co.uk the inaction of FB to take down ‘discriminatory content “breached”‘ some of the advertising partner’s ethical content policies.
In response the big social media giant FB has stated they have attempted to ban and close down certain groups violating civil rights policies and use AI to find more. The other social media giant (the bird) TW has also stated they use their platform to serve and protect public conversation. They have developed policies for their platform and state they respect the fact that these partners have decided to pull out of the platform for ethics reasons.
Many of these advertisers have decided to boycott temporarily for the better part of the year till things cool down and it is not clear if they are supporting still supporting the platform in other ways.
Not the first time FB has been supremely confident
FB has been in the past cavalier about this hitting their bottom line with other controversies in the past. A few weeks ago some news organizations started no longer working with FB to provide content to the social media platform and FB CEO basically said in laymen’s speech: Eh,… we can live with out you – so to speak. His actual words were probably different but you get the picture.
The social media giant has also been embroiled in other controversies in the past including privacy concerns from data leakage to a third party analytics company through selling your data usage to others which ended up with the FB company getting a hand swat from congressional oversight inquiries. You can view the shortened much funnier version called “Interrogating Zuckerberg” which is a bad lip sync of the whole shebang.
Another controversy of FB involved propaganda and ads that may have caused, affected, or influenced the way certain voters perceived information. News reported that FB heavily influenced what happened in 2016.
In their defense, the FB CEO and wife also attempted to appease and appeal to the protest community according to CNN Business when he stated that he stands with them. It appears he’s trying his best to do some damage control to help tone down some of the rhetoric that’s going on after he got an open letter from 140 scientists to work on stronger policies for handling misinformation and divisiveness on the platform.
Under the hood of FB advertising
According to MarketingLand.com, FB also is not completely tranparent with where and how ads are published. They may show in apps, videos, articles. Potentially an ad space could even show up on dating apps or mature sites and so obviously the people purchasing ad space want to control where and how their ads are being delivered. There is an attempt to become more transparent and allow more control and review and block lists that the ad partners don’t want.
However there are still limits on the amount of control and how many publishers they are allowed to choose from. The official reason is to prevent “sales channel conflicts” and too much targeting. More higher lever controls are on the way it appears.
FB also owns many apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp and also platforms like Giphy.
All this hubbub is over the debate about regulationship and essentially censorship and online policing of content and control. Whether FB has its hands in too many pots as a media provider, news outlet, or just entertainment venue, now that FB has grown so big and expanded into so many directions it finds itself puzzling over how to deal with its new found powers and decisions it has to make. An article was written about how FB screens and censors reported content and how it’s not all AI. Someone has to make some decisions and sit there sometime and actually look at the content. Some of it being distasteful, horrendous, disgusting or wrong according to the article. But it’s a job that has to be done when someone reports content and sometimes it’s not always clear what’s happening and where exactly to draw the line as we will mention later.
As we move on to a world that’s aiming to be more politically correct and championing justice, civil rights, and more open source, inclusivity, social awareness this all begs the question, what would happen if we had a world without FB or even TikTok (which recently entered the news due to it being discovered by Apple that TikTok didn’t fix one of its privacy leaks it had last year or so and Apple had to patch its operating system thereby confirming TikTok wasn’t really doing enough to fix privacy security holes and concerns.)
If we extrapolate that one day advertisers see companies like FB are actually embedding advertising in many other apps and websites from dating apps, to texting apps to websites you visit then we can see why so many companies are fed up. The company has been in the news a lot in the last few years, maybe too much and too much of it negative press.
One only has to analyze network traffic packets to see many server connections to fbcdn.net and fb.com and of course its main domain site happens regularly without us or teens knowing about it. How much of our user habits and clicking do we really know is ending up in FB’s artificial intelligence algorithm and what kind of profile or composite is it creating. Recently several high tech companies opted out of facial recognition technology for instance to prevent law enforcement from one day abusing it. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
It likely is not the case all these companies would pull out. Too many people are in it and the money is “just too good” to paraphrase a Phil Hartman(?) phrase on SNL (or was it Darrel Hammond). People will come back to the platform just like when there was fallout over advertising with Nike during protests. Or Chick Fil-A or Dick’s Sporting Goods. But this is all a good start to evaluate where a business’s ethics are. And it’s inextricably tied to a company’s core and also bottom line.
Can we #DeleteFacebook really?
Zuckerberg surely won’t end up on the soup line and FB won’t be bankrupt, but if anything the CEO and his family will understand from pressure and friends and other relationships that things matter, life matters. And it’s not only what you say and what you do and what you say you are going to do, but also what you don’t do that define what your company really is.
A company has to make tough decisions. And a CEO has to show vision. Even Gates, Bezos, Jobs, or even other CEO’s weren’t always liked every second of the day. You could say that about talk show or game show hosts, you could say that about any industry really. You can’t operate a company in a vacuum without relationships.
What this debate really is about
Right now our society is going through an evaluation on ethics. From Socrates to times in Jerusalem trials and crucifications, to ancient Greek times on relationships between humans, and to the opinions on heroic statues and monuments our society is trying to find ourselves and determine its ethics. Always has, always will. We humans are trying to find out what is acceptable. And it has changed and evolved. Sometimes we’ve even gone full circle such as ethics with sexuality. And just because you don’t agree with an opinion doesn’t make it wrong. It’s just different.
That is what also makes current events disturbing because it puts on display and confronts us with our own ethics on the daily news. When we are splashed with fiery incendiary stories about a big event it makes us serious comtemplate our ethical core values. The camera is exposing for all. And the recent events also show people tearing down what they don’t like. Where does one draw the line? If one person can do that simply on a whim what’s to stop anyone from simply making up their own ethics or rules based on what they want?
Censorship, control, making history
Time will only tell if our decisions are right. This is also a good tie in with the Covid-19 crisis. As many people are debating on whether to open or not open, or allow businesses to dictate distancing and protection rules, or should we not wear a mask or be allowed to endanger others or is our own right be go free as nature unhampered a fundamental right?
An article even mentioned a few bar owners delaying opening their businesses because they didn’t want to be at the forefront of a second wave nor did they want to force employees to have to wear PPE to safeguard themselves. And Texas is having regrets about reopening with an uptick in cases.
Right now from listening to the news it just sounds like madness with everyone in an ethical quandry and unchartered territory. Are we better than we were off 3.5 months ago?
Only time will tell. In all things no one can tell where exactly was the right side of history until years after. You could say that about civil wars, WWII, 1960’s etc. Everyone was fighting for “what they thought was right”. But our history teachers used to tell us, “The winners write the history books.” So what if we won the war but were really the bad guys? Someone should make a movie or comic book about that. In the movies you can tell who the bad guys and good guys are, but in real life the question about what’s good and what’s not is not so easy and they don’t really teach you that in school. Even today many people are confused what to do ethically and some have debated pulling their kids from schools for home schooling because of forced curriculums, agendas, and face mask PPE’s / 6 foot barricades.
The only plus side is that people are at least learning to think for themselves and not following others into a lemming scenario. Differences are good because the world is diverse. Not everyone can wear or mask because of personal reasons. Not every internet platform needs to operate the way you want it or by the same exact policies. We can choose who we patronize and put our money to also and voice with out pocket books who we want to support.
In the end, to answer the question, what would the world have been without FB or social media? Probably a quieter one, less distracting.
Sources used in this article:
Aljazeera, TechCrunch, Independent, NY Times, CNN Business, Investing.com, CBSNews.