News Response #8

This The Economist article titled “What Zuckerberg Should Do: Facebook Faces a Reputational Meltdown,” covers how the company has recently come under fire for a variety of reasons. Cambridge Analytica, a data collection agency which President Trump’s campaign utilized, received data illegally through Facebook, which has “set off a firestorm” for its contribution for Trump’s victory. There has also been a general abuse by Facebook of misusing the privacy of its users. Under Facebook’s watch (or lackthereof), Russian firms spent $100,000 to buy advertisements on its platform. This occurred after 150 million users had already seen free content placed strategically by Russian operatives in an attempt to cause discord amongst Americans. Due to these scandals, the American populace has become more aware of that detrimental qualities that lie at the foundation of the business. According to the article, Facebook “relies on three elements: keeping users glued to their screens, collecting data about their behaviour, and convincing advertisers to pay billions of dollars to reach them with targeted ads.” Unfortunately, keeping addicted to their screens has proven to be incredibly detrimental to personal health and users are also unaware of the extent to which Facebook uses data collected on their personal lives. Regardless of Facebook’s obvious flaws, the article does a great job of highlighting the ways that company can improve. Fundamentally, the author argues that Facebook must become far more transparent by receiving a consistent, comprehensive examination of its “approach to content, privacy, and data” by a third party review board. This group could then release this information to the public. It also mentions the need for Facebook to partner with other tech giants to regulate industry standards so that the entire industry would become more ethical. These are both great and needed options, but I believe that Facebook and other social media sites must shift towards making a more fundamental change – one that the article does mention briefly: Facebook must move away from manipulating users to sell their data. Not only is this business model unethical, but society is becoming much more aware of the harms of these activities. Since the collection and sale of data  is the crux of Facebook’s business, the company must invest heavily in company innovation so that it can curb and shift away from harmful practices.