The Giant Stumbles: Facebook and Its Response to Threats

By Tim Kane & Dominique Moomaw

Even with Snapchat and Instagram in hot pursuit of its user base, Facebook is still far and away the biggest social network around.


And yet, in the last year, Facebook has experienced a first. Usage has been steadily dropping among Americans ages 12 and older – a full 8% in just one year. Every studied group appears to be backing away slowly.


But why?


  1. Facebook is no longer a fun place for – as Mark Zuckerberg so often claims – “connecting.” It seems like every opinionated post is one troll away from escalating into a polarizing rant. Friends become the opposition. Negativity is rampant, particularly in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. People are logging off for good just to escape it.


  1. Disinterest. Facebook’s strongest aspect is also its weakest. It’s an all-in-one social sharing, storing, messaging behemoth. But for some, too everything is too much. People are naturally gravitating towards more specialized platforms – the ones that only offer what they love most about social media.


  1. Here is what’s truly at the forefront of the #DeleteFacebook movement. The company has just had too many recent missteps in the areas of privacy and accountability. From allowing companies to obtain the personal information of millions of users (see
    “Cambridge Analytica Scandal”), to enabling the spread of pro-Trump Russian propaganda (see “Fake News Epidemic”), to retaining users’ deleted videos, to scanning users’ links and images via Messenger… The list, unfortunately, goes on.


So now the curtain has been pulled back. Motives are in question. How is Facebook dealing with it?


The company has since gone to great lengths to distract the media with uplifting marketing speak. It certainly didn’t help that, back in 2004, Zuckerberg called his users “dumb fucks” for trusting Facebook with their data. Still, their go-to tactic seems to be the blame game. Whether it’s a so-called bug in the system, as in the case of the deleted videos, or a “rogue third party” abusing the platform, Facebook is quick to put responsibility elsewhere.


When this didn’t go over well, they took steps to increase security, investigating apps, auditing for suspicious activity and informing those whose data was compromised. But these actions were considered too slow and too mild.


What, then, should Facebook’s next step be? Given their need to minimize risk, mitigate damage, and better manage their message, the answer is clear:


Mr. Zuckerberg, we’re waiting for your call.

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