Facebook is among the popular social media platforms across the globe. It is the mother of others because its model birthed the rest, such as Instagram and TikTok, which are valuable assets to the company.
The tremendous changes to the application’s algorithms have had notable benefits and harm to its users, according to the report by Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist who is a pivotal whistleblower to the company’s malpractices under the watch of its Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg.
Creating an account on Facebook enables users to use their login information to create accounts in other applications or sites. Many applications on our digital gadgets integrate Facebook’s security information, such as user name, personal details, and password.
Despite the information revealed by Haugen, the rain has been beating Facebook for a while.
A report submitted to Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer, indicates that the company’s popularity among teenagers and young adults is nose-diving. According to the report, people aged 30 years and above are posting more compared to teens.
The graphs in the document indicate that teenagers’ time on Facebook has been reducing by 16% every year. Notably, there is also a reduction of 5% in the time that young adults spend on the platform.
Besides, Facebook has experienced a delay in the sign-up period among teenagers. Currently, people born after 2000 are expected to join Facebook once they reach 24 or 24 years, as opposed to those born before, who used to sign-up for an account once they were between 19 or 20 years.
The company has been losing users aged between 18 and 29, and the question remains how it will regain its market share in this age group despite its persistent problems.
Appealing to the teenagers and the young adult generation, which has also been declining by 2% since 2019 and is forecasted to drop by 4% in the next two years, will be challenging given the new revelations by Haugen, which indicates that the company only cares about revenues and not user safety and security.
Haugen argues that Facebook misguides advertisers and users by using biased or untrue data. The documents obtained indicate a reduction in the demographics of the two groups that advertisers need to know, but the company has hidden the information.
A decline in Facebook users means that targeted advertising is not as fruitful since only a few people will view the ads. The same applies to a reduction in the time spent on Facebook by teenagers and young adults.
Haugen alleges that Facebook has been violating investors’ rights by not adhering to the United States security laws by concealing information about the shrinking usage and size of the primary user cohorts. Haugen’s documents contained a graph showing the decline in time and projected user growth since 2012 for teenagers and young adults, similar to the information presented to Cox.
Facebook opted to hide such information from advertisers to avoid losing to other social medial platforms. Despite the SEC assessment that has led to damages payment, the company hangs its reputation on a thin thread. For example, in 2019, Facebook had to pay $100 million because of misleading statements on the involvement of Cambridge Analytica in misusing user data during President Trump’s campaign.
According to Duke University School of Law professor James Cox, Haugen allegations will instigate SEC scrutiny on Facebook again, focusing on public statements with user engagement.
The acquired company documents indicate that Facebook excepts a group of influential people from its policies and regulations. As a result, Zuckerberg’s claim that the company ensures that every user has access to equal rights is absurd. The company has a program, “XChecker” or “Crosscheck,” which imposes another weaker layer of quality control on high-profile persons, thereby blanketing them from normal regulation and policies that govern low profile users, as shown by the document.
Social media policies focus on ensuring the safety and rights of all users are observed, which is not the case in Facebook. Additionally, the regulations stipulate that stereotyping, racism, or information promoting violence is an offense and will not be tolerated.
Nowadays, through its program, the firm protects numerous VIPs from the mandatory laws, allowing them to post information that reflects harassment and incitement, which can result in sanctions. However, the company believes that the “Xchecker” is good and was created for a good reason.
A review of Facebook’s documents by the Wall Street Journal indicates that its staff had raised numerous alarms about the use of the platform to undertake human trafficking activities in developing countries, Ethiopia to be specific, but no action was taken. The report details that bosses were alerted about the use of Facebook to undertake organs business and pornography, among other illegal activities.
Besides, the same platform has been used by a drug cartel in Mexico for recruiting, training, and paying assassins. The rapid growth of technological adoption in third-world countries and access to internet-enabled devices has led to an increase in the number of social media users among teenagers and young adults below 35 years.
Therefore, Facebook being a company that is supposed to respond to any tips indicating violation of its company content privacy and content, failed to do so, leaving its users with so many questions about their safety.
Haugen states that she gathered the materials containing evidence of Facebook’s malpractices to help fix the company and not harm it. The company hid much crucial information from advertisers, indicating a lack of openness and unwillingness to correct its flaws, even though it has been making $9 billion in profits in the last three months before September 2021.
Currently, the company is doing everything to revive the number of users in the teenage and young adults cohort, but while doing so, Facebook has been considering astronomical revenues than its users, according to Haugen. The company’s safety team is under-resourced, and its leaders fail to sacrifice even the most minor proportion of their profits to ensure the safety of users. As a result, Facebook’s effects on users’ mental health, especially teens, remain unaddressed, whereas its implications are notable.
Besides, apart from Haugen’s allegations, according to a new whistleblower’s affidavit, Facebook values profits and growth more than factors that affect society, such as misinformation, threats, terrorism, and hate speech. Facebook has failed miserably in imposing its content and privacy policies on all its applications, namely Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.