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The fall of Facebook: how scandal made the platform ‘uncool’ and kept talent away

A series of unaddressed reputational mis-haps by the company – who have been criticised for holding important information about vaccine misinformation and research over the damaging effects of social media from policy makers – have deemed Meta 'uncool'.

man scrolling Facebook on his mobile phone

Meta’s platforms, specifically Facebook, have suffered as a result of changes to Apple’s new policies on privacy for their users, meaning Facebook is restricted in how targeted their advertising options can be. 

To many brands, Facebook no longer offers them lucrative advertising space which allows them to speak almost directly to their target audiences.

These changes to privacy by large tech companies across the world have been welcomed by many who have started to feel the intrusive nature of social media creeping in, especially in the past few years. 

And it’s now something that Facebook has caught onto.

Privacy problems

This week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that it would start notifying users if their chats had been screenshotted by another person whilst using the ‘disappearing messages’ feature. 

This update is almost comically symbolic of Meta’s approach to innovation and modernisation within their many social platforms. Whilst it favours the privacy of one person, it disregards that of another. It is telling evidence of Meta’s understanding that they have failed users in the past with their privacy policy and are scrambling ideas of how to appease them.

This follows a series of reputational mis-haps by the company, who were questioned last year over claims they misheld important data about vaccine misinformation from policy makers in the US. Additionally, that the company sat on research showing Instagram harmed teenager’s mental health, and that they struggled to remove hate speech from its platforms.

Then new issues arose in the form of whistle-blower Frances Haugen. A former Facebook employee herself, Frances accused the company of putting ‘profit over safety.’

Facebook took sight of these damages to their credibility and changed the umbrella name of the company to Meta, firstly to establish some distance between the company and its brand Facebook (which was increasingly under fire), and secondly, to align itself more with its innovation in the virtual reality space, seen in its creation of the ‘Metaverse’.

Announcements this week that Facebook saw no increase in monthly Facebook users and that its fourth quarter earnings were missed raises questions about the future of the company’s growth.

The power of ‘cool’

To put it simply, Facebook is no longer a ‘cool’ place to work. And people across the age spectrum are realising this. Meta has seen the previous influx of talent significantly diminish in recent years. Ten years ago it looked like an exciting employer, but has lost its ‘edge’ in many’s eyes due to its increasing monopoly over the tech and social media space.

Facebook’s fall has provided a temperature check on how privacy looks moving forward. Privacy concerns have changed how people use social media and how much they wish to give away about themselves. Five years ago, individuals didn’t think so much about what they put out there. Nowadays, people are more conscious, if not meticulous, about what they share online – and, seemingly, for good reason.

The case of Facebook is a lesson of several parts to successful individuals and their businesses.

Firstly, that each individual should be diligent in what they share online. You and your employees never know if certain information could end up in the wrong hands and put you at risk of a social engineering attack.

Secondly, that as a business you should respect your customers’ privacy and understand what they want from your services, and not impose changes and ‘updates’ that will be largely unsupported. User privacy should be a priority from the start.

And lastly, updating and communicating your privacy policy (and all other company policies, for that part) should be a constant action. And similarly, as seen with Meta, delayed acknowledgement of wrongdoing will only make things worse.

Reputational recommendations:

Transmission Private publishes a monthly newsletter that tracks the future of reputation management for private clients.

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Transmission Private publishes a monthly newsletter that tracks the future of reputation management for private clients.