Facebook monopoly: it’s time for Zim to join the social media fray
It’s often funny that Facebook and Google share an Internet marketing duopoly.
In 2004, nearly six years after Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched the Google search engine, Mark Zuckerberg created the now multi-billion dollar company Facebook and since then the company has put the word busy as an understatement.
After passing the billion user mark in 2013, Facebook’s internet presence has grown from impressive to unprecedented, gradually increasing every year since.
As if their user base weren’t large enough, the company’s acquisition of other social media assets continued to increase its internet market share: in 2012, Instagram was purchased for $ 1 billion. U.S. dollars ; in 2014, by purchasing Whatsapp for the staggering sum of $ 21.8 billion taking into account the company’s share price at the time of purchase; and soon after, by buying Oculus, leader in the virtual reality industry for an additional $ 2 billion.
According to their company reports, in 2020, Facebook hosted around 2.9 billion users, Whatsapp 2 billion users, and Instagram not far behind 1.3 billion users.
The company has since launched accusations of attempting to monopolize the social media industry, which now, given their acquisitions, could very well be correct.
These weren’t the only accusations Zuckerberg and Facebook had to fight; they also find themselves under fire for mishandling information and selling data to other companies for financial gain amid political and social unrest. Instead of the charges, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the company’s failure to protect user data from UK consultancy Cambridge Analytica; data that was used to influence voters during Donald Trump’s election victory in 2016.
It is alleged that Zuckerberg, CEO of the company, as well as COO Sheryl Sandberg were both named in the original FTC complaint; However, the couple were evacuated from danger with a huge payment of US $ 5 million to the FTC, 46 times more than they would have originally been prosecuted.
Subsequently, on December 8, 2020, the FTC launched an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook in hopes of avoiding the monopoly powers the company has acquired by forcing them to turn away from Whatsapp and Instagram.
Although on the surface it seems unfair that a government agency, or in this case agencies because the FTC is supported in this lawsuit by 46 US states, the territory of Guam and the District of Columbia, to assert their will on the independent financial transactions of a public company only in the sense that its ever-increasing stock is available for purchase, the concern about their growing monopoly and the man behind the wealth seems well-founded.
On Monday, October 4, 2021, the internet estimated how much of the ubiquitous user space belongs to Facebook.
The service outage has been felt around the world, affecting people all over the world like Facebook, as well as all the businesses that fall under it, Instagram, Whatsapp and Oculus have been disconnected from the internet.
While the cause of the service outage has not been disclosed to the public, this one-off event occurred primarily for one reason: the physical infrastructure responsible for Facebook’s servers, as well as those for its acquisitions, are centralized for facilitate the dissemination of information across all platforms that fall under Facebook, which means that a problem with one of their servers would affect all of the servers.
This approach to data management makes it easier to manage information on Facebook-owned platforms and facilitates the surveillance capitalism that Facebook has employed with its approach to user data, which has become its greatest asset to date.
The regional effects of this global platform have kept many people in Zimbabwe from leading, as Whatsapp and Facebook combined make up the biggest part of information dissemination in our country.
It should raise incredible concern that the social media platforms we rely on in Zimbabwe come under such rigorous scrutiny for multiple breaches of business loyalty, such as monopolization, breach of sensitive data and user privacy and a nonchalant disregard for public safety in the promotion of information. In a country of 14 million people, around five million Zimbabweans are active Internet users, according to datareportal.com, which may not seem like a lot; However, once you consider, according to Quartz Africa, that 44% of Zimbabwe’s internet use is WhatsApp, the effects of a data failure become more apparent.
On Sunday October 3, 2021, a former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower was revealed to be Frances Haugen.
Among many allegations, Haugen accuses Facebook, under Zuckerberg’s unmediated directive, of failing to respect user privacy, endangering public safety by supporting disinformation campaigns, and rejecting suggestions to block hate speech and bullying that is more than prevalent on the website.
Haugen alleges that Facebook is using negative energies on social media to perpetuate user engagement, keeping users online longer, allowing additional ads to run which, at best, would lead to customer acquisition for them. brands that market through Facebook.
On top of that, she alleges that Facebook chooses reports that are pushed towards demographics, crippling the Fifth Estate, especially in third world countries like Zimbabwe, where a lot of information is first found on Facebook and then shared. through apps like Whatsapp.
Amid the allegations and confusion, China and other similar states, where Facebook and other social media apps are banned, are left unaffected.
China already has a multitude of applications through which its citizens can share and consume information, such as: WeChat, the Chinese solution to Facebook; Sina Weibo, an alternative to Twitter for Chinese citizens; and Tencent QQ, an instant messaging option outside of Whatsapp owned by Facebook.
This author is not suggesting that Zimbabwean citizens are turning to Chinese apps to protect themselves from suspicious data manipulation and unexplained network failures, nor is he blaming Zimbabwean programmers and inventors.
The author just wants to educate so the citizens of Zimbabwe know that it is possible for a well-designed national app to capitalize on the empty social media market space available in Zimbabwe. We read countless stories about innovation in Zimbabwe on Whatsapp where companies make themselves available to the general public by moving part of their operations to the app or young entrepreneurs who capitalize on Whatsapp’s market share in our country to find ways to eat.
Questions arise in these actions.
Questions to which we are the answers.