The precipitous fall of the Facebook empire
Outpaced by the competition, targeted by the antitrust authorities, sanctioned for its privacy violations, the former Silicon Valley star no longer inspires confidence. Not for its users. Nor its customers. Nor the stock market. Will it succeed in reinventing itself?
Published: October 4, 2022, 7:50 am
Eighteen years after its creation, the social network is at the centre of all attacks. And rather than reassure, its founder continues to stir up political trouble: in American society, on the markets and even within his company, which now employs more than 83 000 people worldwide. Around three billion people spend every day on one of its platforms, Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp.
Mark Zuckerberg is also known to have influenced the outcome of the most contentious US presidential election. The true extent of Zuckerberg’s financial contributions only became known after the voting had taken place. In a 40-minute documentary film from Citizens United Productions, Rigged: The Zuckerberg-Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump, the machinations of the billionaire were brought to light.
Unable to come up with an original idea
It is a phenomenal power, but Mark Zuckerberg seems to be at a loss for what to do next. His decision to focus all the group’s forces on virtual reality and the metaverse, accompanied by the change of Facebook’s name to Meta, has only added to the confusion within the teams and among customers.
This is perhaps because Zuckerberg has always been unable to generate original ideas. He is alleged to have stolen the plan for the social network platform from the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler. In fact, the twins eventually sued Zuckerberg, after he stole their project when the trio attended Harvard University. The lawsuit was headed for US supreme court when the parties reached a 2008 settlement which gave the twins $20m in cash and Facebook stock.
Zuckerberg also had to pay damages to another fellow student, Divya Narendra who had shared details of the project and confidential codes with him. Narendra and the Winklevoss brothers had entered into an oral contract with Zuckerberg to become a partner in the original blueprint for a social media platform called HarvardConnection.
Meta is going nowhere
The Californian social media giant no longer inspires confidence. At the beginning of the year, for the first time in its history, Facebook announced a drop in the number of its active users, and in the second quarter, another first, the group reported a drop in its turnover. The punishment on the stock market is severe: on 31 August 2021, its valuation exceeded 1000 billion dollars. It has since fallen by 60 percent.
For the founder of Facebook, the future of humanity lies in a virtual reality under construction, of which he has narcissistically proclaimed himself the chief architect. Zuckerberg has clearly come under the spell of the WEF’s freakish Yuval Noah Harari who believes in a post-human biotechnological world in which intelligent biological organisms are surpassed by their own creations: “Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so”.
The problem is that the Federal Trade Commission has placed Zuckerberg under close surveillance.
The trouble began three years ago, on 19 September 2019, as Zuckerberg was facing Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. Kept secret, the meeting was recounted by two New York Times journalists in their book L’Inquiétante Vérité (Albin Michel).
Surrounded by the president’s closest advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the two men talked for a good hour, discussing the future of the world and in particular the threat posed by China’s technological power. And more particularly on the worrying success of the TikTok application, one of the most downloaded in the world.
Trump unable to stop TikTok
In the months that followed, and until the end of his mandate, President Trump would not stop trying to have the app banned in the United States. Without success, and to the great despair of Mark Zuckerberg, who saw the growth of his group seriously hampered by the rise of this young competitor. Unable to eliminate it, “Facebook ‘tiktokised’ itself, copying all their codes”, explained digital marketing specialist Stéphane Zibi.
This is a classic strategy in the tech world, but it has not prevented the Chinese rival from topping the rankings of Apple and Android app shops. And to put Mark Zuckerberg’s teams face to face with this damning observation: TikTok had hijacked their users’ available time.
Apple becomes transparent about its tracking, Facebook is blind
It was thus with weakened positions that the Californian giant took the real big market shock in spring 2021. For several months, Apple had been putting off a change in the rules of its App Store. On 26 April 2021, it finally introduced App Tracking Transparency: from that date onwards, users must consent to being tracked in an app downloaded from the Apple shop.
If the user refuses, the application publisher cannot access their advertising ID and therefore cannot collect any data on their behaviour.
However, by reflex, consumers will naturally tend to refuse to be tracked when they use their smartphone. Most iPhone users have said no to tracking by companies such as Facebook. This is where the problems really started,” says a former executive of the social network. From that moment on, Facebook became one-eyed.
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