Facebook are key players in the social media field, with ownership of Instagram, Whatsapp and diversification into Oculus VR, Ascenta, and ProtoGeo Oy. However, this year has been somewhat of a PR nightmare for Mark Zuckerberg and his company.
Zuckerberg had to accept responsibility in congress for the improper handling of its users information. This is because Facebook policies had previously allowed third-party app developers to extract personal data about users and their friends from 2007 to 2014. Although Facebook greatly reduced the amount of data that was accessible to third parties in 2014; a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan used an app to extract the information of more than 50 million people, transferring it to Cambridge Analytica for commercial and political use.
The backlash that Facebook received over the coverage of this scandal proves that no company is immune to the spotlight and that ethical issues are becoming more and more important to society.
Another example of the growing power of social media was demonstrated in 2018 by the hashtag #MeToo which was sparked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal. According to the latest reports (Via CBS), “this hashtag has reached 85 countries with 1.7 million tweets...further to this Facebook released statistics showing that there were more than 12 million posts, comments and reactions regarding "Me Too" in less than 24 hours, by 4.7 million users around the world.” With millions of women and some men from celebrities to ordinary people coming forward with their stories. This promoted a positive viral trend that highlighted the scale and magnitude of issues with sexual assault and harassment in society and across the world. This highlights the growing accessibility of the internet/social media and its power to make positive change in the world by creating a conversation through which change can be driven by the masses.
In a world that has ever growing mass media capabilities, the spotlight is getting bigger. Meaning that if you are to navigate the social media landscape which is shaped by political correctness & freedom of speech, viral accessibility and conflicting views in opinions & beliefs. We must take the lessons from 2018 through into 2019, with accountability for our actions, our content and respect for others.