In the wake of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal and questions around its ability to impact elections, Facebook’s been trying to reassure both users and governments that it takes its responsibilities seriously.
The latest remedy the company has released to try and deal with its public image problem comes in the form of a new video, which looks fondly back on what made the platform so successful in its earlier days, and self-critically examines what factors have caused its downhill slide since.
Aside from some rather vague ‘we need to do better’ statements from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the new advert is the closest the company’s come to admitting that it has a serious image issue and that it has substantially strayed from its initial intentions.
“We came here for the friends”, the video’s voiceover begins, before rolling through a string of examples of simpler online interactions that apparently made us feel “a little less alone”.
“But then something happened,” it continues, before explaining that problems started when “we had to deal with spam, clickbait, fake news, and data misuse.”
However, “from now on,” says the video, “Facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy.”
The crux of the ad is that the company will at least try to return its focus to the ‘friends and family’ aspects of the service, and in doing so, steer away from the current affairs and political news content maelstrom that it has become.
The video will apparently run on TV, online and in cinemas through till July, and forms part of a massive campaign that the company is undertaking to restore its image in the wake of the recent scandals.
Physical adverts railing against fake news, spam and clickbait have also been seen around various major US cities over the last month and are expected to start hitting more locations as the campaign continues.
People and their pockets
Despite the ongoing crisis that the company faces, Facebook’s reported earningsfor the first quarter of 2018 have beaten Wall Street’s estimates, although they are still down since the previous quarter.
After having consistently risen by between $1-2 billion each quarter throughout 2017, the first three months of 2018 saw earnings fall from $12.97 to $11.97 billion. The company’s quarterly report reveals that 98.5 percent of that came from advertising revenue.
Despite the drop in earnings, the number of daily and monthly active users also continues to climb, with a jump of 50 and 70 million users respectively, quarter-on-quarter. This brings the numbers up to 1.45 billion daily and 2.2 billion monthly active users.