Facebook’s Gollum Will Never Give Up Its Data Ring

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Precious!

Does Facebook sell your data? An informal poll of my informed Twitter followers suggested that about 70% of us believe that.

Facebook does not sell your data. It protects your data like Gollum holding the ring. Selling your data would not be nearly as profitable as leasing access to you, via advertising— over and over again.

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One Year Later: What Have We Learned About Russia, Facebook and Our Elections?

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NewCo Shift Forum 2018

John Heilemann, Renee DiResta, Laura Rosenberger and Roger McNamee discuss the future of democracy in an era of unrestrained social media.


One year after the Shift Forum convened one of the very first conversations around the role of Russia in disrupting the US electoral process in 2016, moderator John Heilemann once again convenes a panel of experts to plumb what we know about the story. What was revealed is both fascinating and deeply disturbing.

John Heilemann: All right, guys. We have the third in our series of political policy-related panels this morning. This is the one that I have been most looking forward to, because I think it gets to one of the issues that everybody in this room has been thinking about. Everyone in the country’s been thinking about, and the one that no one in the country was thinking about.

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Advertisers to Democracy: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Its most significant business crisis to date fails to tarnish Facebook’s earnings. Perhaps it’s time to admit something about ourselves we don’t want to face.


Facebook earnings just came out, and as it has nearly every quarter, the company crushed it. Many (including myself) were expecting at least some measurable effect on the company’s performance from the Cambridge Analytica train wreck, but the company seemed instead to pick up steam, booking a 63 percent increase in earnings year on year and beating Wall St. estimates by an astounding 34 cents a share. “Up yours, haters!” may not have been overtly stated on the earnings call, but I am quite certain there was plenty of that sentiment going around One Hacker Way today. In America — particularly Trump’s America, nothing washes away sins like unmitigated success. Oh, and money — lots and lots of money.

Facebook stock is already trading more than five percent up in after hours, and will likely pop on the open, as the investing public hastens to ride it back up to its pre-Cambridge Analytica highs. And why not? It’s Facebook’s time, after all. The company has taken its licks, apologized, and promised to do better. Zuck went to Washington, and new features seems to roll out almost daily — each promising one more “fix” for whatever was originally broken about the service.

It’s not Facebook’s fault that capitalism works the way it does. The bare truth is simply this: Facebook works for advertisers, which is another way of saying it works for business. And as long as it keeps doing that, business people aren’t going to stop using it. Period, end of sentence. The executives at Facebook know this, and as much as they’ve claimed they’re willing to impinge their business to “fix” their service, there’s simply no way they’ll actually going to roll out any changes that significantly change how their advertising model works. Regulation could “fix” it for them, but after Congress’ laughable performance earlier this month, that’s highly unlikely.

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Advertisers to Democracy: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Its most significant business crisis to date fails to tarnish Facebook’s earnings. Perhaps it’s time to admit something about ourselves we don’t want to face.


Facebook earnings just came out, and as it has nearly every quarter, the company crushed it. Many (including myself) were expecting at least some measurable effect on the company’s performance from the Cambridge Analytica train wreck, but the company seemed instead to pick up steam, booking a 63 percent increase in earnings year on year and beating Wall St. estimates by an astounding 34 cents a share. “Up yours, haters!” may not have been overtly stated on the earnings call, but I am quite certain there was plenty of that sentiment going around One Hacker Way today. In America — particularly Trump’s America, nothing washes away sins like unmitigated success. Oh, and money — lots and lots of money.

Facebook stock is already trading more than five percent up in after hours, and will likely pop on the open, as the investing public hastens to ride it back up to its pre-Cambridge Analytica highs. And why not? It’s Facebook’s time, after all. The company has taken its licks, apologized, and promised to do better. Zuck went to Washington, and new features seems to roll out almost daily — each promising one more “fix” for whatever was originally broken about the service.

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No Trump, No Comey, Very Little Zuckerberg.

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Money Quote April 16 2018

You’re welcome.

One of these companies is not like the other.

A number of consequential business stories broke over the past few days, but it was hard to hear it over the braying contest between our president and his detractors (or the second and third day analysis pieces on Facebook’s journey to DC). So for your Monday morning, a review of the stories we’ve been reading since late last week. No Trump, no Comey, and very little Zuckerberg.

WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell Steps Down

No one seems to know exactly why Sorrell stepped down, save “personal misconduct.” If this is how advertising agencies handle things, they deserve to be put out of their misery entirely. No transparency, no public accounting, and therefore no institutional learning and transformation. Utterly unsurprising, unfortunately.

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Zuckerberg Prepares For His Close Up

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The Facebook CEO will testify in front of both the Senate and the House next week. Will it be memorable — or simply more of the same?

Image

April 10 and 11, 2018 will likely create the kinds of memories for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that his own platform will remind him of for years to come. My guess is he’ll pass on the opportunity to “relive” those memories, or share them with his millions of followers. The whole thing will likely just be too painful to recount.

Then again, Zuckerberg’s testimony next week in front of a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, could prove to be the highlight of his already storied career. No matter what, it’s a historic moment — the world’s largest and most celebrated social media company, in the throes of an existential crisis driven by allegations of massive election fraud, being called to account by the world’s most powerful government, victim of samesaid fraud. It’s going to be riveting.

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Winner Take All Platforms Won’t Necessarily Win

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How blockchain, backlash, and breaches may challenge conventional wisdom and reshape your industry


The Official Future Hits Some Speed Bumps

Ask anyone in any major sector of the economy about the future of their industry and the majority will say something like the following:

  • Our industry will be transformed by platforms
  • These platforms will extract the most value from our industry and determine the winners and losers
  • The most likely platform overlords will be the native digital tech giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple (or Alibaba and Tencent depending on where you live)

Essentially, what people are saying is that the notion of digital platform dominance is inevitable. In an Accenture survey in 2016, 81 percent of executives said platform based business will be core to their growth strategy within three years. As such, to understand where platforms are going is to understand the future of your industry itself. Either you will be that player (hard for most) or need to find a place to play and win within their ecosystem.

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The Three Horsemen of Facebook’s Datapocalypse

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Photo by Jamie Kern on Unsplash (modified).

Market dominance, the business model, and internal culture: Mark should learn from Microsoft.

I’ve written extensively about Facebook in Exponential View for the past three years. (In fact, you can see everything I’ve written about Facebook at this link).

Nearly two years ago (EV#60), I wrote:

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Zuck Ducks the Tough Questions

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Money Quote Thursday March 22

The Facebook CEO finally spoke, but did he say anything new?

Of this, I am certain.

And….scene. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence by posting a longer than one page response on his Facebook page (that link is to COO Sheryl Sandberg’s post, so you have both), then granting several major media outlets 20 or so minutes of his time for a largely similar set of interviews. He started with a CNN interview where he apologized directly. Then he took to three publications for lengthier interviews. As you might expect, the media outlets each took a slightly different angle. Honestly, after reading them all, the whole thing felt too orchestrated and calorie free. Zuck did apologize, sort of, but he failed to do the one thing I think is most important: Admit the problem is bigger than his company’s ability to fix, ask for help, and commit to leading the charge on the larger issues at play here.

Oh, and I did try to watch the CNN interview online, but I’m not going to link to it here. Why? Because CNN made simply indefensible decision to cut his interview into minute-long soundbites, separated by as many forced ad breaks as humanly possible. That almost guarantees no one will actually view the entire interview. If ever there was an ironic proof of how Facebook is killing media outlets and damaging the concept of an informed electorate, well, there you have it.

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We Allowed This to Happen. We’re Sorry. We Need Your Help.

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What Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should say next.

Iconic companies can fail (Wired cover at left, 1997, while I was managing editor, and this month at right). And iconic companies can recover. It all depends on leadership.

As I write this, I am certain of one thing: A tense and cortisol-fueled war room has convened inside Facebook headquarters, with communications, policy, and operational executives madly preparing a script soon to be read by the company’s beleaguered CEO. At some point during the scrum, some of the execs had to leave to host a company-wide all hands, but to those in the room, that was a distraction. The all hands had to happen because the natives were restless (more on that in my next piece). But at present, Facebook is in chaos, and the leadership team has no idea what the company response should truly be. So there was no way the two faces of the company — Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg — were going to be at the all hands meeting. Not a chance.

By the time I’ve finished writing this column, and certainly by the morning, we’ll finally hear from Zuckerberg on the “category five hurricane” that has hit the company over the weekend. But given the national news has already led with the story, I doubt it. More likely it’ll happen Wednesday. If it doesn’t, well, that’s another column.

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