After months of denying it had any significant role in the 2016 Presidential elections, Facebook finally admitted that its platform had been exploited by Russian propaganda agencies with the express intent of spreading “fake news” and creating division among Facebook users. Five months later, it seems they haven’t made any progress on this front, and have also managed to stir the pot on several other hot-button issues. Seeing as Facebook is still one of the largest social media platforms in the world, it’s highly likely you or someone you know and love uses Facebook. Becoming familiar with the current batch of controversies may help you visualize one of the biggest elephants in the internet room.
Here’s what Facebook’s in trouble for this month:
- Banning ads for cryptocurrency – the digitial coin movement is facing its own set of troubles (devaluation, fraud, investigations, etc) and Facebook is already on the hook for its other controversial ads. Not wanting any part of a potential law suit or the destruction of their users life-savings, Facebook will no longer allow ads related to Cryptocurrency trading. Crying foul, of course, is the industry and its investors, which despite its still strong overall valuation and big-bank backing, has its share of fringe enthusiasts that see this as more evidence of “deep-state” persecution of currencies not controlled by the government.
- Messenger for Kids app under fire – Facebook’s new chat app is targeted specifically at kids between the ages of 6 and 12. Personal opinions aside (I would never recommend letting a child near internet-connected ANYTHING at that age), health experts and child advocacy organizations are urging Facebook to stop development and distribution of the app.
- Cries of censorship as known troll accounts banned – this one may seem like a head-scratcher at first, but only if you are a reasonable human capable of critical thinking. Some folks on Facebook are crying foul after Facebook notified them that it removed known Russian propaganda sites from their news feeds. Rather than facing the sobering fact that they might have been influenced by someone who didn’t actually have their best interests at heart, these fine folks are actually siding with the trolls who bamboozled them in the first place. How do you say, “Mission accomplished” in Russian?
- Stuck in the middle of profit vs community: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook will be pivoting away from publishing news from big, well-established organizations to focus on more community and friends interaction. Smaller news organizations like Patch are lauding the change, and the big pillars of journalism are understandably concerned. Can Facebook successfully walk the knife-edge between possibly enabling even more fake news and echo-chamber interaction over vetted and respected (but for profit!) news outlets?