social media, crisis communications, ethics

Facebook is losing users and engagement due to data breaches, lack of transparency.

Social media engagement in 2018 was down 4% overall over the previous year for the first time ever, according to BrandKeys Loyalty and Engagement Index. Data breaches of users’ private information, the #Russian hack of elections in several countries and lack of transparency have taken a toll. #Twitter posted a drop of 1 million users last year and Snapchat lost 3 million daily active users. Facebook’s third quarter results fell short on revenue, daily active users and monthly users.

Social media companies must take more responsibility for the damage to users’ privacy and to democracy if they expect people to continue to engage. While #Facebook has made it harder for Russian trolls to buy ads, the network’s response to proactively addressing the concerns of users and governments has been totally inadequate.

Brand Keys founder Robert Passikoff notes that Zuckerberg was a no-show when representatives from nine countries met in London in late 2018 to get answers regarding Facebook’s privacy breaches and its role in spreading propaganda. His empty chair spoke volumes.

I work with companies on protecting reputation and crisis communications. It takes years for organizations to build strong reputations, but they can be severely damaged by a crisis and the company’s response to it. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been cavalier towards the US Congress and European governments. This attitude and refusal to recognize the harm will further damage Facebook’s reputation. Facebook’s own employees are less optimistic about future growth. Company leadership must step up and confront their lack of transparency and user privacy. These steps can help stem the slide in customer engagement.