If controversy had a face, it would be Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.
Facebook is being bombarded from all corners. The users are unhappy because the ugly effects of social media in the forms of disturbed mental health, violence and a whole host of societal problems have started showing up in droves. The government, on the other hand, feels threatened by a body that has far surpassed them in power.
But, you know what?
All these accusations and controversies could not make a dent on Facebook’s revenue. Even after complaining, we continue to use its products. We can hate it, but not live without it, huh?
In the April-June Quarter of 2021, the company’s profits have doubled, as compared to the same quarter in 2020. And its daily active users (DAU) continues to grow like nothing happened.
But behind this strong facade, the company has started cracking. How?
Time for some history.
The dance of power between governments and corporates is nothing new. Back in the 1600s, East India Company (EIC) was formed in London with the purpose of ‘trading with the East’. And in no time, the company became bigger than the sovereign of London (thanks to the loots made from India).
But, did you know that even the East India Company once found itself at the verge of bankruptcy?
Yes, in 1773, when the Bengal Famine led to a shortfall of revenue for EIC. Britain had no option, but to save the company with a mega-bailout.
But as EIC started amassing wealth and power, it started clashing with the British Government. They started bribing the officials to control the London Parliament. Thus started the British Government's trials against EIC. And the final nail in the coffin was the revolt of 1857.
On seeing the dangerous scale and power that EIC had reached, the British Government nationalised all its possessions and power. The powerless EIC shut down after 15 more years.
Something along the same lines has been happening in the current day and time. There might not be any bloodshed or loot, but the power games remain the same.
Lawmakers are pushing for Facebook to sell Instagram and Whatsapp. The company is just not doing enough to fix security issues, hate content and human trafficking. This breakup is going to happen sooner than we think. Much like how the British Government clipped EIC's wings.
The company’s prospects have turned gloomy also because of its innovation stagnation.
The younger demography got disenchanted by Facebook a long time back. So what did Facebook do?
It did not innovate. Instead, using its deep coffers, the company acquired Instagram and Whatsapp, back in 2012 and 2014.
And now, with the new breed of social media companies such as TikTok and Clubhouse coming in, the company is simply copying their features to compete.
Even some of its expansion plans landed it in controversy. Instagram for Kids, for example, was not taken very warmly by the crowd. Because of the negative press that it received, Facebook had to stall its plans.
And of course, with the possibility of losing Instagram and Whatsapp, Facebook is betting big on a trend, which Mark Zuckerberg hails as the future of the internet. What’s that?
“In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company,”
Zuckerberg said this in the Earnings call in July this year.
The company is sailing in a new direction. This can also be seen in the change of leadership at Facebook. Just last week, the CTO of Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, who has been with the company for more than 13 years, announced his departure. In his place, will step up Andrew Bosworth, who led the Augmented Reality technology team in the company.
Will Facebook again be the flag-bearer of a new era? Will Metaverse become the next big thing? Will Zuckerberg get it right again?
Well, only time will tell...
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