I have no idea what it’s like to build a multi-billion dollar business empire, nor do I pretend to know how challenging it is for companies, tech or otherwise, to survive in an ever changing landscape. But my experience as a business and tech journalist has taught me that a founder, particularly one as prominent and famous as Mark Zuckerberg, is the business.
Ever since Facebook burst on the scene in 2004, Zuckerberg has made it his mission to travel the world in a bid to evangelise the masses, touting the benefits provided by the very platform he’s spent much of his adult life building and the power of seeming connectivity it afforded. So, it’s quite jarring that that very same founder, who worked relentlessly to become the face of the business he’d worked so hard to create, has been keeping low throughout the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.
The revelations have caused ripples across the globe, and have in turn impacted Facebook’s stock – the company’s share price declined by a further 5% on Tuesday, wiping off more than $50bn in Facebook’s market value this week.
But despite the many headlines and although Facebook has released an official statement, Zuck is yet to publicly address the revelations, even as #DeleteFacebook gains momentum. This has resulted in criticism both from external and internal sources, with one Facebook employee telling The Verge: “The prevailing sentiment is, why haven’t we heard from Mark?”
Like any consumer-facing business, Facebook largely relies on user trust to fulfil its financial objectives. Data is power. We know it and undoubtedly so does Facebook, which has, may I add, done a brilliant job in terms of getting us to provide data to serve us with more targeted ads.
I can’t even begin to imagine how much of my own data I’ve fed into the platform and part of me doesn’t actually want to know. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even care. But things have changed. Technology giants are coming under increased scrutiny – some rightly so and others due to an inherent lack of understanding across the echelons of government – and in today’s unstable political climate, the thought of data falling into the wrong hands is more unnerving than ever before.
Overall, I think it’s fair to say that criticism over Facebook’s privacy practises has done very little to dissuade users, which now amount to more than 2 billion people from all over the world, from signing up to the platform.
Will people delete their Facebook accounts as a result of this story? I don’t know. Will I delete Facebook? I can’t I need it for work. Even if I did, would I also have to stop using other Facebook-owned platforms such as Whatsapp and Instagram?
We don’t yet have the full details of this story, but the impetus, I feel, is on Zuckerberg, as a leader, to address the revelations and do his own crisis management because as one Twitter user told me “the silence is deafening“.