by Matthew Graybar for WorldTribune.com
Facebook needs a public relations makeover. The social media giant has earned much scorn for its judgment calls regarding what its users can and cannot see on the site.
Those gestures range from the merely forgettable (posting Holocaust denials, “shitposting” about Israelis) to the offensive (publishing racially insensitive content) to the downright reckless (publishing ISIS propaganda).
And this doesn’t even begin to touch on the central issue of privacy, which is largely ignored by regulators who are blinded by social justice “action” campaigns instead of focusing on the data-collection, advertising-minimization and discrimination issues around which various user audits have been conducted.
If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it is that Facebook has tarnished its trustworthiness. It has lost the trust of Internet users around the world and of the general public in general, but still, Facebook is the world’s most popular website by a wide margin.
When Facebook’s share price has been under pressure in the past, investors have responded by bidding up other tech companies.
Twitter: Up 20 percent since July,
Snapchat: Up 18 percent since June
LinkedIn: Up 13 percent since June
Instagram: Up 10 percent since July
Twitter has even rebounded after CEO Jack Dorsey had sent out countless tweets about an interview’s meaning.
While America continues to move away from television and toward the Internet for entertainment, Facebook continues to insist that advertising is not a social activity.
When one-third of the current advertising dollars are used by Facebook, one would think that they would grasp the idea of social media advertising.
Advertisers want to reach us where we are — in person, at parties, at events, at restaurants, etc. — not on our computers or smart phones. If that was true, then Facebook would have been a social network, and yet, it is a global technology company.
There is one another thing that all of these social media companies have in common. Their critics believe that advertising “gamifies” platforms and “de-mystifies” knowledge of how things work. This fosters a form of media at its best, and at its worst, that is made in, by and for marketers.
To compete with the proliferation of new technologies, the older, more traditional media like television and newspapers, still have a window on the world that is both unprecedented and, because of copyright laws, still protected by law.
Their absence has created an opportunity for new media to enter the market by radically engaging users with short forms of media that change the game.
Of course, it’s fair to say that this will not happen through advertising. The readership and advertising revenue will come through user interactions.
And that, unfortunately, brings us back to the Facebook debate. A new vision will be needed to bring people back to the social networking network.
Matthew Graybar is a columnist for WorldTribune.com and founder of the Cult of Government Oversight, a nonprofit research and research group that analyzes the role of the federal government and its agencies.