Next week, Facebook will be hauled in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to explain their part in the Russian infiltration of the US democratic process.
Facebook, initially incredulous that its platform could possibly be misused in this way, have at last conceded that this is exactly what can happen when your platform has over 2 billion active users per month and where its 5 million advertisers can buy and place ads without human intervention.
“BOTH TECHNICALLY, AND FROM A CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE I DON’T FEEL LIKE WE HAVE CAUGHT UP WITH OUR RESPONSIBILITY”
In acknowledging their responsibility Facebook, has hired 1000 (human) ad monitors to oversee advertising and have promised to have their house in order by the next US election – i.e. the mid-term elections, due to be held 6th November 2018; almost a year to the day of the upcoming Select Committee hearing.
Some argue 1000 monitors will barely scratch the surface. Last week, in a taped interview (reported by ZDNet), Alex Stamos, Facebook’s own Chief Security Officer said; “Both technically, and from a cultural perspective I don’t feel like we have caught up with our responsibility”. He was speaking about data security, and without knowing he was being recorded, nonetheless, his comments are equally apt in the current discussion.
For now, the question is: How will the Senate react? Can we expect to see the regulation of Facebook? And, if we do, would that be a good thing? Could regulation affect the effectiveness of advertising expenditure? Big brands may well absorb any additional costs, but what about the mom-and-pop stores that use Facebook advertising to drive their day-to-day living?
Will this bring about the end of the democratisation of advertising that some say Facebook has created or is it the price we pay to keep the democratisation of our nation intact?
by Dellistina James, Head of Business Development at Mass Analytics
November 2nd, 2017.