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Facebook – Another Moral Dilemma

Unilever CMO Keith Weed warned in a speech in March 2018 “that trusted brands could not afford to be associated with social media platforms that fail to safeguard users’ privacy.” He also said, “Across the world, dramatic shifts are taking place in people’s trust, particularly in media. We are seeing a critical separation of how people trust social media and more ‘traditional’ media. In the US only less than a third of people now trust social media (30%), whilst almost two thirds trust traditional media (58%).”

In the fall of 2017, I wrote an article for GreenMoney suggesting that Facebook was in the midst of a moral dilemma, based on a business model that sustains itself by removing as many privacy barriers to access its members’ data as was possible, within the context of what was legal and what the market permitted. Shortly after that article, Facebook’s roof began to leak.

In March 2018, we became aware of a massive breach (80-90 million uses) of its privacy agreement, by Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, spent quite a bit of time doing damage control, most notably before a Congressional Committee in the fall of 2019.

Shortly after that cycle of damage control, Zuckerberg appeared before a technology forum to discuss “Facebook News”, a now formal initiative to launch a “news” portal as part of its ecosystem. Facebook already enjoys the fact that it is a primary news source from it main feed. Now it has developed a “Facebook News” tab that is being tested in various markets.

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