Zuckerberg's new problems?


Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The series of high-profile scandals related to the Meta* corporation continues

In July of this year, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said she sent a letter inviting Meta* co-founder, chairman, CEO and controlling shareholder Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Florida State Council on the subject of human trafficking and Meta*’s plans to prevent those engaged in such illegal activities from using its platforms. The letter invited Zuckerberg to respond by September 5, but whether the Meta CEO accepted the invitation is not reported.

Those words were preceded by another statement from Ashley Moody, in which she announced that Meta* platforms — Facebook*, Instagram* and WhatsApp — were used in 146 of the 271 reported cases of human trafficking in Florida between 2019 and 2022. The figures came from a survey of the state’s law enforcement agencies, which, represented by the attorney general, were also forced to admit that the results were extraordinary.

This is not the first such case for the corporation, it was previously revealed that the Facebook* platform’s Messenger was being actively used by human traffickers to buy and sell children.

Of course, skeptics will say that it is difficult to keep track of all users on such large platforms, and what about privacy? The history of Twitter, which was a close friend of the American government, shows that privacy can be easily forgotten when it is necessary. But the fact that the moderation of different platforms of one company did not find anything strange in the profiles or activities of users engaged in human trafficking — this is evidence of its negligence. Of course, this is not “Russian hackers” after all.

By the way, judging by recent events, Meta*’s friendship with the White House could be even warmer and closer than Twitter’s. On July 17, Ohio House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan asked Zuckerberg to hand over documents about content moderation in the new Threads app. The request is directly related to the ongoing investigation into the tech platforms’ policies and their representatives’ contacts with the Biden administration.

On July 4, a federal judge in Louisiana partially granted a preliminary injunction that prevents several officials in the Biden administration from meeting with social media representatives in order to avoid pressure to delete publications.

It also prevented these officials from asking companies to mark certain types of social media posts to encourage their removal or suppression (so-called content pessimization). In essence, Biden’s associates have been robbed of their favorite magic wand. It should be recalled that a similar method was used (and is still used today) to fight the Russian media, news from which was marked with special stickers and pessimized in Western social networks.

The State Department even had to cancel a regular meeting with Facebook*’s administration regarding the 2024 election and discussing potential hacking threats. And apparently, all of these factors scared the White House so much that on Friday, July 24, the court of appeal agreed to temporarily pause the preliminary injunction, and as we know, nothing is more permanent than temporary.

Based on the above facts, we can assume that some U.S. government agencies are beginning to consider the relationship between Meta* and the White House not from the point of view of national security, but from the point of the corporation playing along with the Biden administration to achieve its political goals. This is not a good sign for the corporation’s management. Yes, democracy is eternal, but presidential administrations can change.

The launch of new products is also failing. For example, the average global audience of Threads, a social network owned by the corporation, has collapsed by two or three times.

The app of the new service has fallen from the top positions of App Store and Google Play ratings, market experts explain this by the banality of the product. In essence, it is a second Twitter. And it is not very clear why a user needs it if the first one is available.

Here, too, we can see a certain round of political struggle and an attempt to throw sand in the machine of the rapidly expanding media (and, perhaps, in the future, political) activity of Elon Musk, who earlier made public the evidence of interaction between the previous management of Twitter and the Biden administration. Time will tell if this is true, but certain preconditions are definitely visible.

What does all this mean for Meta* itself? At the moment, there is nothing extraordinary in these scandals, which have already become commonplace, but over time, all these facts may hurt both the company’s finances and reputation even more.

Having become tightly integrated into the U.S. political system, American technocrats have essentially become Internet officials, and it is not surprising that it is always easier for them to come to an agreement with the White House than to solve a problem and explain their actions to users.

But American politics today is not about business. And this is also strongly felt. Meta* has neither product development nor plans to develop, which means that further scandals, trivial attempts to make money from users, and even greater stagnation lie ahead.

*Recognized as extremist and banned in Russia.