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article imageFacebook turns 15, but it's not such a happy day

By Tim Sandle     Feb 4, 2019 in Internet
February 4 marks Facebook's fifteenth anniversary. While the giant of social media continues to show strong global growth, the past year has been marked by controversy.
Facebook was launched as TheFacebook on February 4, 2004, founded by by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. The social media site started off as an internal network for Harvard University students, before it then grew to become a college-wide network. From 2006 on, it started to become the social media colossus we know today. Worldwide, there are over 2.32 billion monthly active users of Facebook and 1.52 billion people on average log onto Facebook daily; no other social media network comes close.
Mark Zuckerberg Age 24
The World's Most Influential People: Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, CEO & President of Facebook.
Facebook
Next generation
If a company's success was mapped purely by the number of users and its share price ($169.25 on the fifteenth anniversary), then Facebook has little to worry about.
However, 2018 saw several controversies that tarnished the company's image and there are signs that it is losing ground with younger people. Teenagers in particular are moving away from Facebook in favor of other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, according to a study from the Pew Research Center which shows that only 51 percent of teens age 13 to 17 use Facebook. This is partly because of the platform's identity problem - why use something your parents are always on?
Screenshot of video demo of new Facebook Reactions buttons  posted by Facebook engineer Chris Cox
Screenshot of video demo of new Facebook Reactions buttons, posted by Facebook engineer Chris Cox
Chris Cox, Facebook
As well as needing to find new ways to attract future generations, Facebook has wobbled in terms of maintaining a good image and the past twelve months have seen controversies around the veracity of several news stories carried by Facebook and data privacy concerns.
Data privacy
Data privacy will always been an issue for the social network. As a free service, Facebook is reliant upon advertising and advertisers want to know their ads are reaching their target audience. This means Facebook needs to collect data about its users in order to do this.
The way it has sometimes gone about this doesn't always sit well with Facebook's users, especially when it comes to political advertising. Most notably, in March 2018, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent for political purposes (as Digital Journal reported).
READ MORE: A look back at the year of the Facebook scandals
Reliability of the news feed
With news stories from less than credible sources, Facebook was accused several times during the past two years of playing a leading role in amplifying malicious political content, especially around key events like the U.S. presidential election and U.K. Brexit vote. While Facebook has put some measures in place, there remain doubts about how effectively this is working.
Facebook will likely be here in fifteen years time, but what form that takes will depend on how carefully it treads the free content versus data gathering divide; how legitimate it is seen as a news stream; and how well it holds onto its current users and succeeds in attracting the next generation.
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