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Don't Scapegoat Facebook—It's Far Too Easy

How much blame does Facebook actually deserve in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica Scandal that gravely affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election? Perhaps only Mark Zuckerberg knows.


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Facebook Stock Chart Highlighting Date of Trump Entry Announcement for 2016 Presidential Race

3/21/18 J.D. Lakota (Boston, MA)


Facebook's stock price has done very well since June 19, 2015. In the one-year period prior to Donald Trump formally announcing his run for the presidency, Facebook stock bobbed along at about 70 dollars a share. In the year after, it topped 100 dollars for the first time, continuing skyward to a high of $185 shown above.

What the chart doesn't show is the recent losses from the stock being down over 10% in the last two days due to the widely reported revelations about data theft and targeting that came to light courtesy of a Cambridge Analytica whistleblower.

Needless to say, Facebook made money off of advertisements used to target voters for nefarious purposes. But, how much money did they make? What
percentage of their revenue was derived from these ads? Did they know it was a problem and allow it to continue because those ads drove revenue for opposition advertisements as well? All valid questions.


When it comes to just the presidential campaigns themselves, the Hill reported in November of last year that both campaigns together spent a total of $81M on Facebook advertisements. A relatively small amount when compared to the $10.3B in revenue FB brought in in just one quarter of that same year. That's less than ten percent of a single quarter, but that figure doesn't include the rest of the political machine on both sides of the aisle.

Facebook in Focus
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Only Mark knows if Facebook expressly benefited from the online battlefield created through the purchase and proliferation of the divisive ads. Interestingly, though, Mark's New Year's resolution was to "fix Facebook." Apparently, he understood that something was indeed wrong.

Under the guise of stifling free speech, shutting down fiendish advertisers during a heated campaign battle might not have even seemed like an option at the time. In hindsight, the world learned how powerful a force was actually wielded. Maybe Facebook fell to the same fate. Hindsight 20/20 for all, even Mark Zuckerberg?

T
hink of Facebook as building with broken glass around the entire perimeter. Those who compromised Facebook not only broke in and stole, but they stayed for a while. They used the building and its capabilities for an extended period of time. The broken glass "surrounding" the building was almost entirely invisible, until recently. If Facebook was simply under-prepared, overwhelmed, and naive, scapegoating them is akin to blaming a soldier fresh out of boot camp for "losing the war." It's one that has been raging since the late eighties.

If you're old enough to remember the name Michael Dukakis, you also probably remember the name Willie Horton. During the 1988 presidential race, the same type of media manipulation was used, but it was for the very first time. Historically, the first "fake news story" was fabricated and propagated for the purpose of swaying a presidential election. Facebook was compromised in the same way, using new dirty tricks from that same old playbook.


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