Some Facebook users are dialing back use over latest scandal


Some Facebook users are dialing back use over latest scandal

JP Mangalindan Chief Tech Correspondent November 16, 2018

Expect some Facebook (FB) users to dial back their use of the popular social network and even delete their accounts following the publication of a damning exposé this week.

On Wednesday, The New York Times published an extensive feature that revealed how Facebook management was reluctant to tackle Russia-linked activity on the social network following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, how unprepared Facebook was for the ensuing public fallout, as well the social network’s efforts to wield influence on Capitol Hill.

Chief among Facebook’s alleged infractions: employing Definers Public Affairs, a Republican opposition research firm, to accuse left-wing financier George Soros of quietly backing anti-Facebook groups. 

“It’s too early to tell the full impact The New York Times story is having — we would have to see in a month — but it will impact [Facebook’s] Daily Active Users and even just the people who are concerned about occasionally logging on and giving clicks and views to a company they might disagree with,” says Altimeter Group analyst Omar Akhtar, who adds the report severely tarnished Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s once-sterling reputation. 

A dealbreaker

This latest controversy proved to be a dealbreaker for at least some Facebook users, who became increasingly disillusioned with the company and its methods following a string of scandals this year.

Tamara Rudorfer, CEO of Elusive View Entertainment, a New York City-based streaming video company, joined Facebook in 2007, when the social network still required a college email address to register for an account. In those earlier years, she enjoyed using Facebook to stay in touch with people she didn’t often see in-person. However, Rudorfer was turned off after learning of the social network’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — even more so when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March. This week’s turn of events, which included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denying knowledge of hiring Definers Public Affairs, proved the “last straw.”

“When Mark Zuckerberg claims that he doesn’t know what’s going on at his own company, I just want to say to him, ‘How are you not responsible for the content on your website?” says Rudorfer. “You’re the founder. You’re the CEO. You are responsible.”

Andreas Trolf, a TV and fiction writer in Los Angeles, plans on deleting his Facebook account on Nov. 22, after more than a decade of use, once he’s downloaded his profile data and noted the birthdays of some close friends on Facebook. 

“The decision to delete my account is something I’ve wrestled with for a while now — at least since 2016,” explains Trolf. “I love Simpsons meme pages as much as anybody, but the costs now definitely outweigh the benefits. To be caught up with so many bad actors who exploit the platform, seemingly with the blessing of FB executives, is something I can no longer in good conscience continue with. The malfeasance of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg shouldn’t be rewarded by our continued patronage.”

Going one step further, Natalie Marigot, an art studio manager in New Haven, Conn., deleted her Facebook, Instagram and Messenger accounts earlier this week— a difficult decision because Facebook, especially, was a convenient solution for her to keep in touch with far-flung friends. 

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