For most businesses, it would be a disaster. For Facebook, this is only a week and a half.
For 15 years, Mark Zuckerberg has pushed Facebook to become the most innovative, most influential, fastest growing and most profitable company in the world – to act quickly and break everything. It worked very well, as we all know. He also broke a lot of things that Facebook did not anticipate. And the cleaning bills accumulate.
The new investigation, conducted by federal prosecutors in the eastern district of New York, involves agreements with more than 150 partners, including many large technology companies. These partners allowed partners to view Facebook user data, sometimes without their consent. The New York Times, which announced the new Wednesday night, reported these partnerships in December. While Facebook was removing almost all transactions more than two years ago, some data was left open early in 2018, according to the newspaper.
The investigation adds to an already impressive list of inquiries and accusations from lawmakers, regulators and prosecutors. The company is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which erupted in public view a year ago on Sunday. Cambridge Analytica has also triggered an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a criminal investigation by prosecutors from the Northern District of California.
The FTC should largely impose its biggest fine so far on Facebook in the coming weeks, possibly even billions of dollars. Facebook had already told the agency in a 2011 consent decree that she improve its privacy practices and data collection. This agreement set out huge goals for the company in terms of violations. Facebook leaders are now talking about when, not if, the company will be regulated in one way or another.
In response to the Times report on the latest criminal investigation, Facebook spokesman told reporters: "Federal investigations are under way, including by the Department of Justice, as we have already said. we are collaborating with researchers and taking these investigations seriously, we have provided public testimony, answered questions and made the commitment to continue to do so. "
The new study would include subpoenas to appear before the grand jury for recordings from at least two smartphone manufacturers. Their partnerships with Facebook would have given them access to the personal information of millions of users on Facebook.
The smartphone revolution, the economy of applications and the explosion of the desire to share information have made some data arrangements between businesses almost indispensable, and Facebook is not the only company to have them. Some Facebook features, for example, have allowed Netflix users to recommend movies and TV shows to Facebook friends via Facebook Messenger. Users have accepted these arrangements.
But the Times also said that sharing business data such as Amazon and Microsoft's Bing search engine was meant to know the friends of many Facebook users without their consent. In his December article, the Times said that several years after the expiry of the data-sharing agreement between the newspaper and Facebook, the hints and permissions allowing these data to flow between them remained open . It sounded like calling your credit card company, telling them to close your account, only to find out that the company had left it active.
Even Facebook fans are troubled by the fact that these agreements and the new survey are another indicator of how arrogant, greedy and sloppy the company was about data collection and user privacy for most of the time. last 15 years. Given his overly promising and unpromising personal history, it is not surprising that prosecutors are investigating whether criminal acts have also been committed.
For over a year, Facebook has been trying to convince its users and advertisers that the company is a company that has changed. Billions of dollars and tens of thousands of people have been spent for content to appear on its platforms under control. Last week, Zuckerberg said that he was turning Facebook to more private encrypted interactions. "I understand that many people think that Facebook could not and would not even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform because we do not have a solid reputation for developing privacy protection services. privacy, tools for more open sharing, "I said in a Facebook message.
But Zuckerberg has already made big promises, but was not held. In fact, he built society that way. "Move fast, break things, apologize, repeat." This is a crazy idea that seemed like a crazy idea 15 years ago and turned into the sixth most valuable society in the world. At the time, sharing photos or lots of things online using your real name was a sought-after thing. Zuckerberg changed that, thinking that people were less concerned about privacy than they claimed and that they wanted to share more information online than they knew how to do it. Exploiting this space was a stroke of genius.
But these days are over. Facebook needs a new guiding star. We will have to find a way to stay just as profitable. But above all, it will regain the trust of users. On the financial side, Facebook has under-promised and exceeded its forecasts over the last 15 years. Now it will have to be the same to convince users that it protects them.
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