The Facebook Special, Honest Ads Act And More In This Week’s Friday Download
April 16, 2018
By FTI Consulting
You may by chance have noticed that social media was in the hot seat as Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced US Senate and Congressional hearings following the news of the Cambridge Analytica data leak. Whilst my hopes for something as dramatic as the final of scene of “The Scent of a Woman” were dashed due to Mr Zuckerberg’s composed demeanour, there were a number of highlights.
Perhaps one of the most revealing elements of the hearings was that some Senate and Congress members demonstrated a very limited grasp of how Facebook – not to mention the internet – actually works. Whilst watching Zuckerberg explain the internet is the Digital Team’s new favourite pass time, it does raise broader questions for the future of social media. As regulation is appearing to be increasingly more likely, to some it is alarming that the people regulating these social media platforms do not have the necessary level of knowledge of how the platforms work.
Besides Zuckerberg’s impressive ability to give a five hour “Social media 101”, we have been pondering the key takeaways from the hearings and have settled on the following three:
Personal data – In light of Cambridge Analytica leak there were a number of questions around general privacy on the platform. When asked if Facebook would commit to tightening all of its default settings to minimise the collection of personal data, Zuckerberg rightly outlined that this is a complex issue, worthy of more than a one word answer. This may be good news for publishers who will continue to have access to their audiences, however it will be interesting to see whether users increasingly take to protecting their own data or even migrating from the platform. In the line of questioning it also turns out that Zuckerberg’s data was also included in the leak – I’m sure I’m the not only one who is waiting to find out whether he is Farmville fan…
Monopoly – While some of us in the team are still holding out hope for a revival of our Myspace accounts, the social media landscape is looking increasingly less competitive. Questions were raised in the hearings as to whether Facebook has any direct competitors. Whilst Zuckerberg was unable to list Facebook’s competitors he is all too aware that the Innovator’s Dilemma suggests that as soon as a company becomes complacent it will disrupted by new start-ups. From our perspective we will be keeping a keen eye on the horizon to see whether governments will make moves to encourage further competition in the social media space.
Regulation – As Zuckerberg himself has suggested the company is open to regulation it seems almost inevitable that this will take place. However as the CEO accurately pointed out whilst the concept makes sense, the issues are multi-faceted and therefore governments need to be careful about the regulation that is put in place. We would also hope that discussions of regulation would include the wider business community, who have a key stake in changes to digital advertising and data privacy.
If the major platforms were to support the bill it is likely that its key reforms would be implemented. These reforms include, amending the definition of electioneering to include paid digital averts; the creation of a public file on advertisers spending more than $500 on digital electioneering; and limiting the ability of foreign parties to influence the American electorate. We expect that this is the first step in a process which will make digital advertising increasingly transparent, for publishers and companies it will become ever more important to ensure that your adverts are aligned with your public values
Also This Week
Facebook to contact 87 million users affected by data breach – The Guardian
Twitter is taking part in a study designed to reduce online abuse – CNET
Twitter has suspended 1.2 million terrorist accounts since 2015 – Fortune
Snapchat brings back chronological Stories feed for some – Tech Crunch
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting LLP, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals, members or employees.
FTI’s digital practice in EMEA operates as a centre of excellence for digital communications within the firm and is staffed by a team of practitioners with industry experience of consumer, corporate and financial communications. The team runs an active portfolio of multi-sector brands and partners with FTI’s teams and clients to provide a wide range of online reputation management services.