Let’s be honest, Facebook has a consumer trust issue. Too bad Mark Zuckerberg and others within Facebook don’t seem aware of the public’s perceptions. Facebook recently announced that it will not be fact-checking political ads. They positioned this decision as allowing consumers to decipherer what is real and what is faux. Mind you, they do police and prohibit other ads such as digestible CBD products, but false political ads are clearly more lucrative. Despite Mr. Zuckerberg stating otherwise, we know that according to Facebook’s own claims 126 million Americans may have been exposed to Russia propaganda ads in the 2016 elections. The number alone ensures that the ad revenue off of these ads wasn’t chump change. No wonder, Facebook is happy to cash-in once again in the 2020 elections.
Lucrative as it may be, Facebook is relying on consumers to give them the benefit of the doubt. They are betting on consumers’ short memory when comes to their many breaches in consumer confidence. Lest we forget that Facebook had a major privacy scandal after sharing user information with Cambridge Analytica for political ad purposes without users’ consent. This was followed by another violation of user trust in September 2018, when 50 million Facebook accounts were hacked. But that was not the last incident, recently Facebook accidentally exposed over 400 million global users’ data via a snafu with their dating app. Despite Facebook efforts to downplay their on-going disregard for users’ privacy, it is clear that when it comes to providing data to those who wish to cause harm, Facebook is the go-to-source.
It is for this reason that Facebook’s astounding decision to offer an “anything goes” approach in the world of misleading, bogus political ads should be viewed as the proverbial last straw for users of this platform. Clearly, Facebook is not concerned about its users accessing accurate information or their role in being a purveyor of misinformation at a time of significant polarization. Rather than give Facebook yet another pass, Facebook users should refuse to engage (don’t click, like or comment) with their ads and ignore all ads with even a hint of political poison. Perhaps, if Facebook’s faux political ads under-perform (thus impacting their revenue generation ability) Facebook will decide to follow Twitter’s lead to disallow political ads or and Google’s which restricts false advertising.
Facebook should value their audience enough to fact-check ads on their platform. Just as they should care enough about their users to safeguard their data. That they don’t should tell you all you need to know about Facebook’s motives. When the Cambridge data violation broke, we gave them a pass thinking they didn’t understand the power of their platform to mislead. To give them a pass now after repeated indifference to their user base would amount to “fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.”
Users should eliminate the driver of Facebook’s malice: ad revenue. Then maybe they will learn that Facebook is only as good as consumers deem it to be. Without consumers to reach and persuade via their advertising platform, Facebook may soon learn a hard lesson that their arrogance led to their demise.