Like other large, successful social media networks, Facebook continues to enhance its existing services and to offer new features. Last year, however, the company found itself mired in a number of very public scandals. Facebook’s stock price (Symbol: FB) hit an all-time high last summer, and yet the world’s largest social media platform continued to be haunted by some of the controversies it faced throughout the year. During the company’s annual meeting last May, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged, “a lot has happened since the last year when we were here.”
A lot has also happened since May 2018.
Facebook users may recognize the shareable “Year in Review” slideshow that Facebook creates around the holidays to jog users’ memories on the highlights of the past year. Here’s a look back at a few of Facebook’s recent challenges along with some lessons that we, as meeting planners and event marketers, might heed:
- Prepare for Threats: Investigations by several federal agencies revealed Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 elections. Fake Facebook pages were developed, and advertisements were purchased and placed on Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) in an effort to influence the outcome of the elections. Said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, in her opening statement before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last September, “We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act. That’s on us. This interference was completely unacceptable.”
This unprecedented and extensive attack on the democratic election system entered new social media territory: bad actors harnessed the very technology designed to foster open dialog for their own nefarious purposes. Social networks, which are still relatively young as compared to other media forms, were not prepared to combat this new and previously unforeseen threat. Facebook takes a proactive stance via its online newsroom to inform the public of the steps it has taken and the measures it continues to put in place to help protect election integrity worldwide.
Planner takeaway: Vigilance is key. As hackers and other bad actors continue to scheme, to innovate and to develop insidious means of invading our private space, organizations must be on guard at every level to thwart these attacks. Suspicious posts from trolls really do deserve a second look and close monitoring. Report malevolent behavior to your leadership, to any appropriate authorities, and to the network itself immediately.
Analysis continues in the next blog!