Cambridge Analytica scandal: Should Zuckerberg give up Facebook?

Cambridge Analytica scandal: Should Zuckerberg give up Facebook?


“When you’re building something unprecedented in the world like Facebook, you’re going to make mistakes, but people should keep in mind that we’re learning from our mistakes,” Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday.

Are you going to resign? A journalist asked next.

-Not that I know! He answered bluntly.

In the midst of the scandal over the improper use of data from the Cambridge Analytica consultancy – the biggest crisis the social network has faced in its 14-year history – some question the leadership of its creator and executive director.

But Zuckerberg is not willing to give up his chair so easily.

The 33-year-old American businessman, who is also the president of the company’s top management, controls the board. He is the majority owner of Facebook and has almost absolute power over the decisions made on the platform.

However, recent revelations about privacy failures, as well as controversies over the spread of false news and political propaganda, have led many to question Zuckerberg’s capacity to rule … and even his professional ethics.

“You can only resign”

One of its strongest opponents is Scott Stringer, director of the pension portfolio of the city of New York, (USA), who owns about US $ 1,000 million in shares in the social network.

Scott Stringer
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Scott Stringer is the director of the NUeva York pension portfolio and has shares worth $ 1 billion on Facebook.

Stringer was firm: this week he assured that Zuckerberg should resign.

“(Facebook) has 2,000 million users,” he told the US television network of financial news CNBC.

“He is entering swampy terrain and is not behaving in a way that makes people feel good about Facebook and safe about their data.”

According to Stringer, the resignation of Zuckerberg would allow Facebook to begin “a second chapter to improve its reputation”.

However, and despite the opposition of some of its largest shareholders, Zuckerberg is the only one who can decide if he leaves.

Zuckerberg can not be fired, he can only resign. And that is precisely what I should do now

Felix Salmo, financial journalist

The creator of Facebook “not only runs an institution that affects almost everyone on the planet,” the well-known British financial journalist and blogger Felix Salmon wrote on his website on Tuesday.

“In addition, thanks to financial engineering [the implementation of tools and solutions to resolve financial matters], it has the majority of the votes of the shareholders.” This means, explains Salmon, that “he must not answer to anyone” .

“The system is designed so that Zuckerberg can not be fired, he can only resign,and that is precisely what he should do now,” the Briton added.

Facebook home screen
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption The Cambridge Analytica scandal has affected 87 million people.

“A man criticized for his lack of empathy”

The conference call with journalists from around the world that Zuckerberg offered on Wednesday was as good as the young entrepreneur could have expected.

In fact, at a given moment, he even encouraged to extend the time of the collective interview to answer more questions.

From his answers we learned something more about what was the real cost of the negative publicity he is receiving and the #deleteFacebook movement (driven by those who want to be erased from the social network). And Zuckerberg said it was not that bad.

There has been “no significant impact that we have observed,” he said, before adding quickly: “But look … it’s not good!”

How Cambridge Analytica used Facebook information to make political propaganda

What we could not know during the call, says Dave Lee, a BBC technology correspondent in North America, was to what extent Zuckerberg was being counseled by his team at that time.

“But for a man who is often criticized for his lack of empathy, it was a robust exposure that lasted almost an hour, and the investors understood that : the shares rose by 3% when the call ended .”

Next week, Zuckerberg will face a tougher scenario, this time in front of the cameras, when he testifies in Washington before Congress.

In fact, this session with the press was perhaps an ideal essay, says Lee.

“The situation regarding Zuckerberg’s leadership could change drastically in the next few months, as the investigations – especially by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – start to analyze more deeply how Facebook handled public data. “

If it is considered that he did not fulfill his responsibility and is affected by a large fine, the pressure could increase to make substantial changes in Facebook.

So far, despite all the apologies and mea culpa, Zuckerberg told reporters that he had not fired a single person at the company in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

“I take responsibility,” he said.

Facebook headquarters
Copyright of the AFP / GETTYimageImage caption Zuckerberg said the #delete Facebook movement did not have such a high impact.
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