The past 12 months have been quite challenging and varied for Facebook. Growing pressure from the public and Congress over the years has led to PR crises. Let’s face it, in 2021; Facebook has endured several significant battles. Here is a list of some of the critical concerns Facebook has suffered over the past year.
Facebook’s year began with allegations. The reason was that the deadly US Capitol Uprising was mainly planned on its platform. The regulatory agitation over the incident continued for months. Because of this, lawmakers contacted Mark Zuckerberg before Congress to demand an answer on his platform’s role in the attack. Zuckerberg then defended his decision not to take action against Donald Trump. However, the former president set fire to his personal and campaign accounts. The ban on Trump’s Facebook platforms has once again sparked a backlash – this time from Republican lawmakers.
This was followed by months of controversy between Facebook and its Independent Supervisory Board, where each entity made a decision. Eventually, Facebook decided to extend Trump’s suspension by two years.
The biggest scandal struck the company when a firm employee, Frances Haugen, leaked internal documents that exposed the internal functioning of Facebook. According to Haugen, Facebook was aware of the many severe impacts/harms the company was doing but did nothing to address the shortcomings.
For example, documents show that the company has been studying the negative impact of Instagram on teenage girls since 2019; although this damage has since been publicly denied. In particular, these findings prompted Congress to summon company executives to the platform with multiple readings and teen users.
Facebook has since halted plans to launch an Instagram app for kids. Additionally, new security measures have been introduced that encourage users to take a break if they use the app for a long time. At a Senate hearing in December, Instagram executive called on Congress to establish an independent body tasked with comprehensive regulation of social media.
According to Frances, Facebook devotes minimal resources to moderating non-English content. Congress promised legislation and drafted new bills to address the power of Facebook. One controversial event in Section 230, part of the Communications Regulations Act, absolves companies from liability for content posted on their platforms.
It is worth noting that Frances was not the only whistleblower to file a lawsuit against Facebook in 2021. In Spring, a former Facebook data scientist said the company had allowed politicians to use its platform to deceive the public and harass opponents.
Apple had a fair share of regulatory battles; However, Facebook could not find an ally in its fellow tech firm; While experiencing an onslaught of consumer and regulatory pressure brought in 2021. The iPhone maker released a new messaging system in April to alert users; About when and how Facebook controlled their browsing habits. This was likely to give them more control over their privacy.
Facebook protested the new policy and argued that Apple was choosing its services and targeted advertising products. Preliminary reports suggest that Apple is indeed benefiting from this change. And advertising profits for Facebook and Google fell.
In early October, the situation suddenly worsened when the company faced a global service disruption. It was a technical failure that left billions of users frustrated. They could not log in to Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp for six hours. The company’s stock price fell 4.9% that day. As a result, Zuckerberg’s wealth reduced by $6 billion.
In July, the Biden administration launched a brutal crackdown on the company over its misinformation about the vaccine. Meanwhile, the appointment of an antitrust leader as head of the FTC has caused trouble for Facebook, which publicly criticized the company in the past.
After the cartels, the company announced that it would now be renamed Meta at the end of the year. The firm intends to get involved in the metaverse project and offer people a completely different reality. A mixed attitude followed the name change. Hopefully, 2022 will be much more exciting and rewarding for the company. We will see the news in stages over the next year.