Looking at history, we might understand Facebook better

“Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits”. A quote by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, as a reaction to the surging profits of his company. The question is whether Zuckerberg is really willing to put profit second. The pressure on Facebook is building after Russian interference in the US elections and growing influence of the platform. What is their true priority?

In the study Learning from the History of the Field, Janet Wasko emphasizes the importance of being aware of the history of media industries. Historical analysis explains f.e. the initial focus on making profit in the early days of Hollywood. Wasko writes that in contrast to other countries, the film industry in the United States was “developed as a profit-oriented, commodity-based enterprise.”

By analyzing the past, one can better understand the present. Even though Facebook is not part of the film industry, it is part of the American media industry. The culture of capitalism is at the heart of (most) American industries, also the media industry as we can read in Wasko’s research. Thus, I think we should critically monitor dominant players in the media industry, like Facebook.

“Protecting our community before profit”, really? According to The Wall Street Journal the revenues of the company increased with 47 percent (to $10.3 billion) compared to this quarter last year. So, what is it going to be Mark? Admitting that Facebook has a responsibility to the society and acting accordingly or putting the main focus on growing profits? Looking at history, we might already know the answer.

By T de Man

Bibliography:

Wasko, Janet. Learning from the History of the Field. University of Oregon. 68-70. 2015. Print.

Seetharaman, Deepa. Facebook Profit Jumps 79%, Revenue Up. The Wall Street Journal. 2017. Online.

Popper, Ben. Facebook’s business is booming, but it says preventing abuse will cut into future profits. The Verge. 2017. Online.

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