It set a lot of the standards for how social sites should work and has swollen to levels that make old sites like Myspace seem primitive by comparison. Many people turn to the site for news, business marketing, and other needs rarely ever thought of with social media.
But the site’s high levels of growth and engagement haven’t come without a price. The massive amount of data inputted into and circulated throughout the site has given rise to some concerns regarding user privacy and digital theft.
Zuckerberg’s platform made the news for all the wrong reasons when it was announced Cambridge Analytica had obtained access to many peoples’ accounts without their knowledge. Coupled with continued questions about the aging but seemingly unending quest to prove Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and the Facebook founder’s appearance before Congress was a tense moment for supporters of the site.
But during Zuckerberg’s 11-hour testimony throughout the course of two days, something unexpected happened. Facebook’s shares improved – by a lot. The market cap shot up $17.3 billion, over $1.5 billion per hour. Though Facebook shares declined when the appearance was first announced, Zuckerberg’s impressive showing coincided with an eight percent increase in stock values coupled with a 4.5 percent spike shortly after.
Many of the questions were centered around Facebook’s massive reach and the amount of control it has over people’s perception of news in the digital world.
But while regulators are always eager to tamper with and control anything they deem dangerous or even powerful, the increase in Facebook’s value in the face of congressional officials seemed to hinge on one important factor – many members of Congress don’t seem to understand Facebook.
Lawmakers seemed very out of touch in some regards. Between a lack of technical understanding and a seeming disconnect based on generation gaps, members of Congress seemed confused at some points and clueless at others. Some inquiries even implied the parties asking the questions thought they were talking to the founder of Twitter, not Facebook.
The entire buzz around digital privacy and how data is spread through cyberspace appears to be something government officials are baffled by. Even well over a year past the presidential election in 2016 which saw many big-name influencers and mainstream media companies end up making the wrong prediction regarding the outcome, politicians still seem determined to prove “hacking” somehow accounts for the discrepancy.
But the way people perceive the safety of their own data in cyberspace and what constitutes factual information is changing. In a decentralized world where information can be proven, disproven, shared, and circulated without central oversight or top-down control, individuals are seeing the divide between their own worldviews and those of regulators like never before.
Zuckerberg did say regulation for his platform may be imminent, but it’s going to be tough to stop copycats and competitors from offering social media platforms free of political interference and control.