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Time to Flunk Facebook

How many revelations of double standards and toxicity at individual and societal levels does it take for governments, companies, institutions and people everyone (that have the option and privilege to choose) – to flunk Facebook?

The questions are more relevant now than ever only a couple of months after journalists at The Wall Street Journal broke a range of stories based on research of tens of thousands of internal Facebook documents about the companies inner working leaked by Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, that dared to stand up against Zuckerberg’s enormous power conglomorate.

The leaked documents overall conclude that Facebook Inc knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands.

Double standards and harm
WSJ’s specific findings were about double standards at more levels: When Facebook said Its rules apply to all, but company documents reveal a secret elite that’s exempt. When Facebook knew that Instagram is toxic for many teen girls but t hey choose to use research from The Oxford Internet Institute instead that could count not prove harm. When Facebook supposedly tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place but made it Angrier Instead.

Then, in October a US congressional staff member supplied the redacted disclosures to 17 US news organizations and CNN reviewed the papers. And CNN wrote the story about Facebook Papers that painted a damning picture of company’s role in the insurrection – as a company that created harm to the norms underpinning democracy:

“Stop the Steal and Patriot Party groups “were not directly mobilizing offline harm, nor were they directly promoting militarization,” the analysis says. “Instead, they were amplifying and normalizing misinformation and violent hate in a way that delegitimized a free and fair democratic election. The harm existed at the network level: an individual’s speech is protected, but as a movement, it normalized delegitimization and hate in a way that resulted in offline harm and harm to the norms underpinning democracy.”

Mad microtargeting: Research exposes more bad merits
But the story of Facebooks bad merits didn’t stop here. On October 15. a team of academics and computer scientists from Spain and Austria published a new research paper demonstrating that it’s possible to use Facebook’s targeting tools to deliver an ad exclusively to a single individual if you know enough about the interests Facebook’s platform assigns them, writes Techcruch. “The researchers demonstrate that they were able to use Facebook’s Ads manager tool to target a number of ads in such a way that each ad only reached a single, intended Facebook user

According to Techcrunch, these findings could increase pressure on lawmakers to ban or phase out behavioral advertising which could have an enormous impact on Facebook. And EU lawmakers are right now mobilizing support for a ban on tracking-based advertising which were proposed at the back end of last year but are now entering the last stretch of negotiations ahead of becoming pan-EU law, accordring to Techcrunch.

Will governments flunk Facebook?
While facing the biggest storm in company’s history, Facebook Inc., seem stand on firm ground regarding userbase and financial strength: With Some 3.6 billion people using one of Facebook’s apps every month ( up 12 percent from a year earlier). With a “revenue that rose 35 percent to $29 billion in the three months ending in September compared with the same period last year. And with a profit that rose 17 percent to $9.2 billion.

Now Zuckerberg is trying to steer clear from trouble by creating a new universe – or rather a metaverse – where everything can happen on his premises and changing name from Facebook to Meta. The question is how many people want to recide there? And that question is partly shaped by the answer to the question:

Will governments finally flunk Facebook? Or will they force their citizens over there and keep up status quo?