The Facebook Trust Disaster Was Easily Predicted

Five years ago in 2014, the future of Facebook trust was in the balance. What happened?

‘When I joined Facebook in 2016, my mom was so proud of me, and I could walk around with my Facebook backpack all over the world and people would stop and say, ‘It’s so cool that you worked for Facebook.’ That’s not the case anymore,’ a former product manager says. ‘It made it hard to go home for Thanksgiving.’

First of all, Thanksgiving is literally a holiday created by Abraham Lincoln after the defeat of pro-slavery forces that had been aiming to break apart the United States. It’s supposed to be the easiest time to get back together with family, even for those unwilling to give up human slavery.

Second, 2016? Let’s talk about warnings as early as 2011, which are easy to find even in the public forums…and maybe the better question is what didn’t happen? Facebook didn’t hire a qualified CSO during these years, and didn’t have executive leadership committed to respect for human rights (e.g. privacy) let alone ethics.

Third, recent studies by the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona cited that only 14% of Facebook users deleted their account after Cambridge University researchers violated privacy. More importantly, the studies found that user behavior changed measurably and “sensitive words” were removed as users start self-censoring and encoding their meanings in a manner similar to slaves in American history.

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