If you’ve at all been following Facebook as a media platform, by now you’ve probably figured out their M.O.: Act now, apologize later. It’s one of the reasons that I personally don’t like/don’t use them anymore.
Let’s first revisit the timeline of these kinds of incidents:
- 9/2006: Facebook apologizes for its open News Feed/Mini Feed
- 12/2007: Facebook apologies for how its new Beacon reveals information it shouldn’t
- 2/2011: Zuckerberg re-ups privacy commitment (believable?)
- 9/2013: Facebook apologies for advertisements on its site featuring photos of two suicide victims
- 2/2014: Facebook apologizes for censoring breastfeeding mom (and this doesn’t even count its apologies for various other photo or content censorships over the years of such things as doll nipples, two men kissing or DIY abortions)
- 9/2014: “Gory Baby” scandal
- 10/1/2014: Facebook apologies to LGBT community for its “Real Name” policy
- 7/2014 or 10/2/14, depending on how you look at it: Facebook has two executives apologies for treating humans like guinea pigs because of its undisclosed psychological experimentation
So the evidence against them is looking pretty damning, but I doubt much will change. At this point they have too much in their favor:
- A huge worldwide audience with no real close rival;
- A culture that’s now not only used to be being apologized to (think politicians or today’s NFL) but who’ll also accept the apology and carry on as if everything’s business as usual;
- A fairly bulletproof formula: Vast Reach + Apathetic Public = Huge Advertising Opportunities = Big Dollars = Arrogance
Let’s be frank: Zuckerberg et al are not stupid. It’s not like at this point they don’t gather around the executive conference table and say, “Hmm, if we do this psychological experimentation on our users, no one will mind.” If they do, then there are some serious clothes in that emperor’s wardrobe! No, in fact, they are very, very shrewd. The executive team at Facebook knows exactly what it’s doing each time it’s rolling these dice at the online craps table, and they know the odds are so skewed in their favor that they can afford to lose a few rounds because they’re going to net so much more in the long run.
In fact, if anyone from Facebook were actually to take the time to read this timeline, I doubt they would feel any shame or embarrassment from it. Would they want to once again apologize for their horrible track record? I would say to this person, “Save the apologies, Dude/Dudette. I’m not buying it anyway.”
Facebook might be laughing all the way to the bank, but I’m just fine with my moral high ground. At least my readers trust me because they know when I take a stand, I don’t backpeddle and pander. That value used to mean something in this world, and I wish it would again.