Mar 18, 2019 - Technology

Facebook struggles to turn the page

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

After a brutal week for Facebook that saw executive departures, a massive outage and the disclosure of a criminal investigation, the weekend offered the company little respite.

The state of play: There were new revelations in the long-running Cambridge Analytica saga, as well as fresh concerns in the wake of the New Zealand shooting over the company's role in fomenting and amplifying extremism.

Why it matters: 10 days ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a massive reorientation of Facebook's priorities in the direction of private encrypted messaging. But rather than change the narrative, the time since that announcement has been filled with a familiar drumbeat of bad news.

The latest:

  • The Guardian reports that Facebook board member Marc Andreessen met with Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie back in the summer of 2016, raising further questions of who knew what and when at Facebook. Andreessen denies any such meeting.
  • Meanwhile, another figure in the scandal, researcher Aleksandr Kogan, sued Facebook for defamation. Kogan maintains he's being made a scapegoat for Facebook's own missteps.
  • Facebook came under intense scrutiny for the role it and other social networks played in spreading video of the Christchurch mosque shooting Friday.
  • The company's announcement that it pre-emptively blocked 1.2 million out of 1.5 million attempts to upload the video highlighted the magnitude of the challenge it faces. But it did little to quell concern that the company seems unable to stop its platform from being used to spread extremist violence.

ICYMI: All this follows what had already been an especially rough week, even for a company that has grown accustomed to negative stories. Last week saw...

The bottom line: Facebook has been through a lot of rough weeks without losing its grip on advertisers, customers and investors, and the latest developments may not change that equation.

  • Zuckerberg's challenge now is to figure out if he can use the ongoing PR nightmares to speed, rather than undermine, the transformation he wants.
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