Facebook users consider dumping social media platform amid data scandal

Global Business

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 10: 100 life-sized cutouts of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sit on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol on April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. The advocacy group Avaaz placed the cutouts on the lawn to bring attention to the alleged hundreds of millions of fake accounts still spreading disinformation on Facebook ahead of Zuckerberg’s hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Senate Judiciary Committees. (Zach Gibson/AFP)

The controversy surrounding Facebook has spurred a number of hi-profile users to cancel their Facebook accounts. It’s part of a movement called #DeleteFacebook. But does it have any chance of succeeding?

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

Jacob Shilson uses Facebook to promote his recording company, so he thinks it’s commonly accepted that your personal is being accessed by many parties. But he said the latest controversy with Cambridge Analytica pushes the limits.

“You are on it a lot… you are sharing your information with corporations.  Using it for political means is kind of like in my opinion, that’s far-fetched, a little dystopian, kind of like we’re getting a little scary with that,” said Shilson.

Consultant Jung Kim hasn’t used his Facebook account in a long time and thinks most tech savvy people are ready to move on from the platform.

“I think it also reveals that maybe a lack of social responsibility on the Facebook side,” said Kim.

Teacher Librarian Debbie Hughes teaches students to think about where their personal information is being spread on the internet and how it’s being used. She said her 28-year-old daughter recently deleted her Facebook account while her nieces of the same generation share everything on it. “I have a Facebook account. I’ve been thinking about the last two weeks whether I’m going to keep it or not. I don’t know,” said Hughes. “I’m conflicted because it’s a way for me to keep in touch with my nieces. They live out of state. I get to see my grandnephew and nieces. I’m very torn about it. If there were another platform I would consider moving, but everybody else has to move too.”

But there are competitors getting a huge boost from the Facebook scandal.  A social network called Vero recently climbed to the top of the download charts.  Another called Minds describes itself as open source and a decentralized platform for internet freedom.  And then there’s one called MeWe, which bills itself as having “No ads, no tracking, No BS.”

“First of all I want to set the record straight. It’s not a breech.  There’s no data that was stolen. This was actually Facebook doing what Facebook does,” MeWe Founder and CEO Mark Weinstein said.

Weinstein said his MeWe social network offers everything you need – photo sharing, videos, messaging – all without the tracking. Weinstein started building social networks back in 1998 and even has the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, on his advisory board. But even with those credentials, the question becomes how can an ad-less, non-data-mining social network make money?

“We don’t have to track people, we don’t need their data, we have to have a great platform, great services and then we have some optional features,” said Weinstein. While MeWe is free, Weinstein believes customers are willing to pay for inn-app purchases and higher-level services if his network continues to focus on serving the customer instead of selling the customer as a product. 

“This is a tipping point. People have finally had enough and when people say I’m just going to keep my Facebook account because it doesn’t matter… here’s what does matter,” said Weinstein. “If you keep your Facebook account, then Facebook will continue to track you around the web at every other site you visit. We would never allow this to happen if we could see the creep on our shoulder. “

Facebook has continuously worked to prove to investors it could monetize and to young people that it was still cool. But it’s now facing an even greater challenge— convincing users each click is one they can trust.

Amy Zalman discusses Facebook’s future

Amy Zalman spoke with CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo about Facebook’s data breach scandal, and Facebook CEO’s Mark Zuckerberg hearing on Capitol Hill. Zalman is the Owner of the Strategic Narrative Institute.