Stunning Story Evokes Angry Reactions around the World

A damning exclusive New York Times story on Nov. 14 detailed the inner workings of Facebook before, during and after the Russia and Cambridge Analytica scandal, leading to an editorial Nov. 15 in the newspaper calling for government regulation. The story hit international news and stirred debate on what the future of social media should look like.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

Among the most disturbing aspects of the story, which involved interviews with more than 50 people in the company and others with knowledge of its workings, was that Facebook hired an opposition research group to smear Apple as a way to deflect criticism. Its efforts to counter the company’s allowance of anti-Semitic speech involved attacking any critic as being funded by the billionaire George Soros. The deep irony: both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and second-in-command Sheryl Sandberg, COO, are Jewish.

Wired magazine wrote an analysis questioning the motives and actions of Facebook and putting the fresh scandal in perspective. The article asked six questions related to what it called the “bombshell” story that ask whether the company can legitimately continue to operate as it has, without oversight.

Chris Nuttall, a technology columnist for the Financial Times of London, called the revelations “shocking,” and said that Facebook learned the wrong lesson from the Cambridge Analytica scandal: “Facebook has learnt how to create fake news itself.”

How the story and the resulting fall-out will affect Facebook remains to be seen, but already a backlash against social media platforms has begun, according to a story in the Washington Post, which said that 4 million users in Europe have quit Facebook and usage is down in the United States. The story cites a Pew Research Center poll that 68 per cent of Americans have either quit or taken a break from social media this year.

While some have called for Zuckerberg’s resignation as CEO, a story in CNET predicts the Facebook board will continue to support him.