Facebook in Need of Revised Vision and Mission?

"Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in their world, and to share and express what matters to them."

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Facebook’s mission statement is vague and conspicuous in its failure to identify its customer base, how exactly it enacts its mission, how the organisation sets itself apart from other social media and its privacy policy. It also makes no mention of the organisation’s internal communications and how its employees feel about the work they do, or how the organisation envisions its future… if there will be a future post-Covid-19. Through researching what technology journalist David Kirkpatrick appropriately termed the Facebook Effect, the inner workings of the global tech company become slightly more comprehensible.

Facebook’s customers

Firstly, It would be highly beneficial for Facebook to specify who exactly its customers are instead of broadly referring to them as “people” (Facebook Investor Relations, 2020). According to Marketing strategists, companies need to have a core customer base if they are going to survive long into the future. (Cant, 2013). For example the organisation could cater to individuals between the ages of 13 to 35 based on market segmentation or analyses. It is important for organisations such as Facebook to identify their core demographics and communicate directly to them through their mission statement and ultimately their services, thus ensuring synchronicity between the mission and the execution of its strategy.

Specifics of the organisational operations

Facebook’s mission statement neglects to shed light on exactly how the organisation gives “people the power to build community.” (Facebook Investor Relations, 2020) What devices are most compatible with Facebook and are their systems safe from cyber warfare? It is more likely that Facebook gives people the power to build a virtual community of their personal information for the organisation’s private use. For example; their likes, dislikes, fears, location, occupation etc. “Facebook makes the personal data provided by users available to advertisers, in aggregated form, for its own commercial gain. It and its business partners learn a lot more about us, but in general we know far less about it and exactly how the company is using our data.” (Kirkpatrick, 2010) Facebook has recently been at the center of a data breech scandal where millions of users’ personal data were accessed by hackers. The subsequent communication by Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to stakeholders was inadequate to the sensitivity of the gross ethical violations. Zuckerberg said that the attackers were using Facebook developer APIs to obtain some information, such names addresses and related deep web data that’s linked to a user’s profile page.

Facebook has been mired in these sorts of privacy controversies dating back to “the News Feed in 2006, Beacon in 2007, the terms of service in early 2009 and the everyone privacy setting in late 2009,” (Kirkpatrick, 2010)  and will most likely come under more scrutiny from regulation authorities if it does not revise its strategies going forward. The everyone policy is a default setting which allows any Facebook user to see your information until you turn this feature off opposed to having it encrypted until the user chooses otherwise. Facebook strategists could have better managed the social issues involved in the scandal considering the accountability the organisation owes its various stakeholders, as well as its responsibility to the global community. Facebook suffered a significant public image decline as a result of the data breech scandal which has seen its young customers move to the organisation’s competitors such as Twitter and other sites. (Adams, 2019)

Facebook’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Facebook’s mission statement does not mention what it is that differentiates it from Twitter, Tik Tok and Snapchat. The lack of articulation of its USP speaks to Facebook’s ambiguity in its mission and could cause its customers to continue flocking to other similar mediums. The lack of a clear service also makes it difficult to determine what exactly they are offering. According to its 2019 financial statement, the organisation made more money from advertising ($20 736 000) in the fourth quarter ($31 2019) than it did from other operations ($346 000) (Facebook Investor Relations, 2020) arguably making it an advertising platform rather than a social platform for its users to “stay connected with friends and family” (Facebook Investor Relations, 2020).

Employee relations

It goes without saying that an organisation’s employees need to ‘buy into’ the organisation’s mission in order for the it to thrive. Facebook’s former employees, Chris Hughes, Alex Stamos, Mark Luckie and Chamath Palihapitiya however have “questioned the value and impact that their work has had on society.” (Aydin, 2019) Facebook cofounder, Chris Hughes, left the organisation after he called “for Facebook to be broken up.” (Aydin, 2019) After acquiring Instagram from founders Kevin Systom & Mike Krieger, Facebook began to make “changes to the service and staffing,” (Aydin, 2019) which led to the employees’ departure. Facebook’s former chief information security officer left the corporation after his promotion for “more disclosure around Russian interference of the platform,” (Aydin, 2019) was not received well by his colleagues. Another disgruntled Facebook employee, Mark Luckie, quit because of the company’s lack of diversity. “Facebook’s 2019 diversity report showed that only 3.8% of Facebook employees identified as black, with only 1.5% of technical employees identifying as black.” (Aydin, 2019) Chamath Palihapitiya, former VP of user growth, sited ““tremendous guilt” about the effect of social media on society,” as his reason for leaving Facebook. (Aydin, 2019)

Facebook’s future

Facebook’s future looks bleak at best and should perhaps be geared towards guaranteeing its dwindling number of users’ privacy as the world becomes increasingly interconnected and more transparent. Its mission statement is significantly lacking in this regard. Perhaps its board members should express this notion in a revised mission statement which better defines the organisation and what it aims to become going forward for example in the next 10 -15 years.  Kirkpartick suggests, “the need to successfully navigate the shoals of regulation will undoubtedly become a more pressing concern,” both for the company and its customers in the future. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s organisational vision of ““radical transparency”” (Kirkpatrick, 2010) and increasing exposure of information contradicts customers’ needs for safe and secure digital interactions. Facebook is likely, however, to increase traffic volumes to its site during  the COVID-19 pandemic when people seek valuable information and social interaction online instead of at their local hangouts because doing the latter might just end tragically.

 

Bibliography:

Kirkpatrick, D. (2010). The Facebook Effect. The United States of America:The Random House GroupLimited

Everything you need to know about Facebook’s data breach affecting 50m users

12 former Facebook insiders who ditched the company and are now outspoken critics

Facebook investor relations

U.S users are leaving Facebook by the millions

 

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