Sun. Nov 27th, 2022

Since its name change from “Facebook,” Meta has become a target for hackers.

After falling 26% on Thursday, Meta‘s stock price lost $230 billion. Since then, the stock’s value has dropped by more than a third in less than a week.

However, it was a dismal earnings report released on Wednesday that sparked the sudden drop in the company’s share price. The fact that Facebook reported a decline in users for the first time in its 18-year history appeared to frighten investors the most. According to Jacob Furst, director and professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media, this is a problem if your business model is based on constant expansion.

If your business model relies solely on acquiring new customers and increasing your size, what do you do when you reach a point where you can no longer grow?” asked Furst.

Trouble as Zuckerberg Pivots to the Metaverse

In particular, Mark Zuckerberg is concerned about Apple’s recent privacy controls, which allow users to block Facebook from tracking their activities. In this way, Facebook’s model of selling user data to advertisers is shattered. The change could cost Facebook $10 billion a year, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

There are not many people who are going to be upset about Facebook’s performance, said Furst. The privacy initiatives taken by Apple, in my opinion, are fantastic, and I hope to see more of them in the future.

It isn’t just about privacy for Furst, he adds, but the importance of privacy as a safeguard for democracy.

“I’ve read a number of articles that make a strong case for the importance of privacy in a democracy. It’s not just about my own privacy; I’ll protect that as much as I can, but I think part of what we’re seeing with Facebook is the idea that privacy is important for democracy,” said Furst. As a result, “there are actual threats to democracy when everyone is interacting on this public platform and Facebook knows everything about everyone.”

Furst points out that Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen claimed that the social media giant intentionally tries to elicit angry responses from users in order to increase traffic.

Facebook in Pivots To the Metaverse

“That’s not how a democracy should work, I’d wager. “We should be focusing on questions that are important to democracy, not questions that make people angry,” said Furst.

UC-Chicago computer science professor Ben Zhao concurs that one of Facebook’s biggest challenges is the conflict between the company’s data-based economy and privacy.

When it came to the ability of companies like Facebook to harvest user data, Zhao said, “we took it for granted for a long time” and didn’t question it. It is to Zuckerberg’s credit that he built this massively successful company and made it incredibly profitable.”

However, he observes that younger generations are becoming more aware of how their data is being used and are beginning to shift their views on privacy issues in favour of the more protective approach. That Snapchat’s popularity “showed that privacy was not dead contrary to many people’s arguments decades earlier,” according to Zhao, “showed that privacy was not dead.”

When it comes to privacy-conscious users, “the one thing that was missing, was a tool for the privacy-conscious users to push back because if you’re already on Facebook you could do nothing,” said Zhao. In contrast, with Apple’s new IOS for its iPhone, users can say no, do not track me or use this. The business model of Facebook falls apart if there is no data to sell to advertisers.”

By Adam

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