Facebook's Hard-Learned Lessons

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Serving as CEO of the largest social media network comes with ups, downs and the occasional tap dancing recital. Mark Zuckerberg recently spoke with a cadre of reporters, where he admitted failure in a number of ways. Call it a mea culpa, if you will; covering the 87 million people whose data ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, deleting Russian trolls, fake news and more. Coming off reserved and resolute in applying lipstick to the pig, I question if the billionaire truly accepts the defective nature of the social network’s practices.

A recent Fortune.com piece challenged Facebook, highlighting the flawed nature of its advertising model. It first illustrated the ill-advised use of data across the Silicon Valley firm’s network, and that issue, then reminded us who Facebook really is: a media company, employing a push model, selling against advertising. “Nefarious uses” take us into very murky waters.

“Platform companies and data-aggregators capitalize on individual data by selling to advertisement networks and marketers looking to target specific segments, influence buyer behavior and make dynamic pricing decisions,” explained the World Economic Forum. Food for thought; the same organization places a $3 trillion dollar valuation on the global data market economy.  

Facebook serves as a gatekeeper to copious amounts of data -- that it’s unclear whether it can or cannot ensure its security. Looking to leverage this data for revenue, it continues to support the outdated push model, neglecting an evolution taking place. Sell your magic beans elsewhere, sir, there are no buyers here.

The blockchain conversation is an important one, as it enables increased transparency in advertising, and ushers a migration from inadequate practices of the past.

While Facebook wants to offer an opportunity for users to learn about the new products and services blockchain and other up-and-coming technologies have to offer, disingenuous ad practices and malicious behavior drove the social media titan toward action.

At the end of January, it banned all, “ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency,” Rob Leathern, Product Management Director wrote in a company blog. In taking this position, Facebook admitted to a lack of foresight in properly preparing for evil intentions by not having the proper protocol in place to protect its patronage.

The traditional method of leveraging channels to push out the masses is an old-fashioned practice that Facebook has hitched its wagon. The real rub here - aside from the blockchain bumbling -- is that legitimate advertisers and retailers receive inaccurate data, and lack real transparency into ad spend value. Advertisers are left with uncertainty.

As an April Fool’s gag, a Facebook ICO was reported. The alleged ICO was to rival telegram, but because the social media platform was already behind the 8-ball, so to speak, I can’t see how this gatekeeper could pivot practices in a way to right the wrong, and fix what is broken.    

Blockchain does offer much in the way of ecommerce transformation, positively impacting influencers, retailers and shoppers alike, but starting from a fractured foundation is no start at all, Mr. Zuckerberg.




Edited by Mandi Nowitz
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