People are mad at Facebook, but more so because of what it’s failed to do than what it’s done. The social media company has become the whipping boy for some of today’s greatest societal ills, given its immense global reach of 2.1 billion users and the role it plays as a communication tool and information hub.
Until recently, the company has highlighted its positive influence in connecting the world, meanwhile downplaying the fact that activity on Facebook has torn people apart.
Last year at this time, Uber was the Silicon Valley unicorn up for a lashing. Former engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti published a blog post detailing the culture of sexual discrimination and harassment that trickled down from the office of founder and then-CEO Travis Kalanick. The company got slammed -- and lost more than 200,000 users -- when surge pricing kicked in during a taxi driver strike against President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Now, it’s Facebook turn. People are angry that Facebook hasn’t played a more active role in curbing foreign propaganda (namely Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. general election) and fake news. The U.S. government questioned Facebook about such interference in hearings last November. Publishers and media professionals have highlighted how the platform prioritizes polarizing, sensational and sometimes mindless content over quality journalism. And others yet have concerns about how excessive Facebook usage is affecting users’ mental health.
This month, Wired published a lengthy feature chronicling the company’s last two years, during which it’s responded to criticisms with news feed changes and public statements. Wired’s cover depicted an edited photo of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, battered and bandaged to symbolize the flack he’s gotten. (Depending how you look at it, it’s also a warning against the spread of misinformation, given that it’s a doctored photo.)
Activists, ethicists and even former Facebook employees have spoken out about the ways in which they perceive the company should take responsibility for how people use the platform, as have multinational conglomerates, entertainers and more. Click through the slideshow for a sample of the prominent voices that have denounced Facebook.