Facebook has been in the news a lot in recent weeks – and not just for its latest product releases. Here’s a brief roundup of what’s going on with the world’s most influential social network.
Private Data & Politics
Facebook is facing a major crisis in the wake of revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a London-based political data firm, harvested private data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without their permission. Last week, exposés in The New York Times and the Observer of London detailed how this allowed the company to exploit private social media information to profile voters and influence political campaigns – including the Brexit campaign and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The ongoing backlash is serious. Both British and US lawmakers are criticizing Facebook for failing to protect user data. The hashtag #DeleteFacebook is trending. And Facebook’s stock took a two-day plunge before starting to rebound on Wednesday, resulting in an 8.5% drop – or $45.6 billion – since last Friday.
Facebook first reacted defensively, denying that this was a data breach, and announcing that Cambridge Analytica had been banned from the platform. CEO Mark Zuckerberg released his first statement on the topic yesterday, taking ownership of the problem, and promising to take further steps to protect users’ information:
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
Facebook relies on user trust – through posting information and content, and engaging with individuals and brands on the platform – for its success. The aftermath of this crisis will show if Facebook can rebuild that trust or if it will take a long-term hit.
Facebook Lite Expansion
Facebook Lite, a pared-down version of the platform, is expanding its availability to more countries. It launched in 2015, and targeted users in developing markets with slower or limited Internet connectivity. It was previously available in more than 100 countries, and the new rollout will release it in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Ireland.
“We’ve seen that even in some developed markets people can have lower connectivity, so we want to make sure everyone has the option to use this app if they want,” the company said, according to Reuters.
Facebook has also just introduced video chat in Messenger Lite, which is a simplified version of Messenger for Android.
“Now people who use Messenger Lite can have the same rich and expressive face-to-face conversations as those who use the core Messenger app, no matter which technology they use or have access to,” the company said in a statement.
The End of Explore Feed
After completing trials in six countries over the past year, Facebook is ending testing on its Explore Feed. The concept was to create a version of Facebook with two different News Feeds: “one as a dedicated place with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated place for posts from Pages.”
Facebook determined from user surveys that people didn’t like the two separate feeds. Users reported being less satisfied with the posts they saw, saying that the two feeds didn’t help them connect more with their personal network.
You gave us our answer: People don’t want two separate feeds. In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family.
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