REPUTATION, DATA PROTECTION AND A BIT OF FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWING

Try to find someone not present on a social media platform, it’ll be difficult, you could easily research how widespread Facebook and Instagram actually are. A simple search on Google with the words ‘’Facebook users in Africa’’ will lead you to a Statista webpage, what you’ll see there will be just how many users there are in West African countries many wouldn’t think would be ‘’civilized enough’’ to have Internet access considering how most Africans are portrayed in the media, yet Nigeria in the stats has the most Facebook users: 31.560!

Is there a connection between company malfeasance, whistleblowing and contractarianism? I have connected these dots after this week’s seminar on Data Regulation Requirements, when we looked at Frances Haugen, Facebook’s recent employee turned whistleblower and company malfeasance and I couldn’t stop myself from seeing them tied-in. A whistleblower is often an employee who recognizes and takes action in reporting wrong-doing within the company they work for/at.

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She, Frances, was under a work contract with Facebook as a Product Manager & Data Engineer and Scientist, saw many things happen, had access to and gathered evidence that Facebook knew of their impact on young girls among other, decided to come forward, as a result on 5th of October 2021 she got published and her testimony travelled around the world via optical fibers so fast she even testified in front of the American Senate in a little over three hours, a week ago.

Facebook is still alive and kicking after having been down for six hours, and Forbes reported that the company lost $65 Million during the outage while CEO ‘’Zuckerberg’s fortune declined by $5.9 billion’’. (Forbes 2021). Some users didn’t notice anything wrong, whilst others’ addiction had no escape but to gather steam like a pressure cooker. Those who frequently fall under the spell of mindless scrolling felt it. How will this impact the company reputation? It remains to be seen. Facebook and Instagram haven’t been punished by law to this day for creating digital electoral wars and for their social conditioning.

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In the European Union, users can control what happens to their data thanks to the General Data Protection Regulation, applicable since May 25th 2018 in all of its member states, which influences how Facebook operates in the EU. Thanks to the GDPR which protects what happens to my personal data (GDPR, 2021), but I am still being tracked, through cookies and other tools I’m innocently unaware of. I always see how intelligently Facebook seems to observe my Google searches online and offers me ads containing similar items. How do they know I wanted recycled wool gloves!? I actually like ‘em, Facebook! Thanks!

Going forward, I was seriously thinking having my own social media platform and website, away from Facebook, and thinking how to move my own business away from Facebook, but still being aware that Facebook gives me access to millions of like-minded users, and reminding myself of the benefits of advertising on this platform. Will I stay or will I go?

REFERENCES

Abram Brown, 2021. Facebook Lost About $65 Million During Hours-Long Outage. Viewed [10/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2021/10/05/facebook-outage-lost-revenue/

Anon., n.d. Personal data. Viewed [10/14/2021]. Available from: https://gdpr-info.eu/issues/personal-data/

C-SPAN, 2021. Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies before Senate Commerce Committee. Viewed [10/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOnpVQnv5Cw&ab_channel=C-SPAN

Statista, 2021. Facebook subscribers in West African countries 2020. Viewed [10/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1139386/facebook-subscribers-in-west-african-countries/