February 8, 2019

Facebook Turns Fifteen

By Melissa Ryan

Monday was Facebook’s 15th anniversary. To celebrate, take another look at just how many ways they’ve failed their users over the years. Alex Kaplan and I first compiled the exhaustive list for Media Matters in October and have since updated it a few times. Every time I revisit the post I’m shocked all over again by the sheer volume of screw ups, and how little they seem to matter to users.

Facebook continues to be a cesspool. They finally got around to removing 22 more Facebook pages associated with Alex Jones this week but a hoax about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg still spread like wildfire thanks to sharing in private Facebook groups. They’ve also recently blocked external ad transparency tools that allowed users to see how and why they were being targeted for political and commercial ads.

Despite all of this Facebook’s profits and revenue continue to climb. Most of us still have Facebook accounts that we use to keep up with our friends and family, even though we know we shouldn’t trust the company with any of our personal information. I’ve come around to the idea that Facebook is a monopoly that needs to be broken up for the good of democracy. Germany took steps in that direction this week when it’s antitrust office ruled that Facebook is “abusing its virtual monopoly in social media by combining data from Instagram, WhatsApp and third party websites.” It would be great to see the U.S. and other countries follow suit.

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