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Why Facebook just might surprise you all.
Since the world has come to know Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has lost more market cap than America's most valuable auto company is worth, is being sued by everyone and their brother, has witnessed user engagement drop like a rock, is being investigated by the US government (complete with a visit by Zuck to Capitol Hill...remember when he was prepping a possible White House run???), and now the speculation is that advertisers, the life blood of the "social network," will be next. Scan the interwebs and it will seem we have the next Enron, WorldComm, and housing bubble rolled up into one.
Only that's not the case. The Au Contrarian is here to pump the breaks. I don't believe Facebook is going anywhere. If fact, I think just the opposite. I think the Cambridge Analytica fiasco will actually make Facebook stronger.
Huh? Don't scandals bring down giants?
Sure. Scandals can bring down heads of state, powerful business persons, elite athletes, or Hollywood Illuminati. But these are all of a personal nature. People fall from grace. People get shamed. People can't face their demons. And people form a personal connection - albeit often an irrational one - with other people. The scandal happens, and the reaction from someone's constituency - fans, supporters, voters, etc. - is where the fall happens.
Right now you're thinking, "but wait...corporations fall to scandal, too." The aforementioned Enron, WorldComm, and the banking crisis of 2008 are examples. The different in this case is that these corporations actually weren't doing well to begin with. They were cooking the books, screwing with the numbers, and being deceitful about their financial standings. It wasn't scandal that brought these entities down, but rather their collapse that produced the scandal.
Neither of these circumstances really apply in the case of poor Facebook. Did they violate some laws? Yeah, probably so. That happens to A LOT of companies. Hell, there is a good chance Apple is going to have to pay $15 billion in fines to the European Union. Hundreds of companies break regulations every year and get fined. Some employees even go to jail. But rarely does this result in the demise of the corporation.
In fact, I think this whole incident may actually end up benefiting Facebook.
Facebook, like practically any private sector company, derives its revenue from its customers. So who are these customers? As the team at Quartz points out, "users" and "customers" are not one in the same. Aunt Susie may be a user of Facebook, but Nike, H&M, Ford, and TGI Friday's are the network's customers. Just like NBC has viewers, and it's real customers are it's advertisers. NBC delivers a product that it's customers pay for. In both cases, the product are viewers/users. (That's right....YOU'RE A PRODUCT!!!! #Matrix) This is product is valuable to advertisers.
Right, and if Facebook starts dropping users, then it becomes less valuable to it's customers.
I'll grant you this. And I'll also refer you to an old adage that happens to be true:
"Quitting smoking isn't hard...I've done it a dozen times."
Be honest. All of you know people who have, at one time or another, deleted their Facebook account. You may have even done this yourself. How many of them reactivated their accounts? We half-jokingly call modern social media an "addiction." Well, relapse sure sounds like a symptom of addiction, doesn't it?
The fact is, as of 2018, there really is no Facebook-Chantix. There really isn't even Facebook vaping. We have a generation and a half of people who grew up with some iteration of the social network, and one or two other generations who have been late adopters. You'll be back. And Facebook knows you will. You know who else knows? Facebook's customers.
Actually, its pretty. damn. impressive.
Let's say I was trying to sell you on a particular product or service. I wanted to prove to you how powerful this product or service was. What's the most impressive thing I could say? "It raised the dead?" Yeah, that would work. How about "it discovered life on other planets?" Sure, pretty impressive. How about "helped achieve world peace?" Yep, I'd buy that. Now, short of Jesus, nothing has ever been able to achieve any of these things. So what's the next rung down?
- It influenced the election of the most powerful person in the world, in the most powerful country in the world. -
Pretty damn impressive, right? If you wanted a platform on which to put your brand in a way that influences people, what can beat that?
Far from this being its downfall, the Cambridge Analytica scandal might be the best thing that ever happened to Facebook.
Maybe Zuck should reconsider that run for the White House? I know where he can get some really good election intel...
Author's Note: This piece in no way excuses the actions of Facebook or Cambridge Analytica. It is also certainly not an endorsement of Mark Zuckerberg for president. The author makes no claims as to how much, if any, influence the actions of Cambridge Analytica had over the 2016 US Presidential election, or any other election in any other country. I don't even really like Facebook. So there.