About the Mask...
The Mask of Facebook shines a light on some of Facebook's recent notable PR crises. Just as depicted in the logo, Facebook's mask is cracking and breaking apart. As Facebook is currently facing a myriad of scandals and crises, this website will be adding more content regularly.
The Mask looks at four major crises, using interactive timelines featuring video, media sources, internal Facebook documents, interviews and more.
The first is the case of children's financial exploitation (CFE) with Facebook refusing refunds when children unwittingly used their parents credit cards playing games on Facebook, such as Angry Birds. The kids spent more than $34 million between 2008 - 2014. Facebook changed its policies only after losing a class action lawsuit filed by parents. The internal Facebook documents (we've got them) were ordered unsealed by the court in 2019, thanks to a legal petition by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) / Reveal. CIR broke the story in Jan. 2019.
Second is the secret mood experiment (EXP) Facebook performed on more than 680,000 users without their consent or knowledge. When the media and academics raised concerns about informed consent, Facebook ignored that aspect and apologized "for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused."
Third, the Cambridge Analytica (CA) data breach which affected approximately 87 million users. The data was used to target voters by the Trump campaign before and during the 2016 presidential election.
Fourth, the Political Ads Fiasco (PAF), started back in 2011 when Facebook requested that the FEC (Federal Election Commission) exempt it from financial disclosure regulations, due to its self imposed small "size" of the ads. The FEC vote split 3-3 which meant they would/could not issue a decision. This left the 2006 rules that required disclosure to stand. However, Facebook continued to sell political ads without the "ad paid for by..." disclosures.
The crisis responses in these cases show a repetitive pattern of arrogance, avoiding the specific issues, and a refusal to take responsibility for its actions, all while displaying a complete lack of candor.
The Mask of Facebook will continue to document Facebook's PR crises and its responses in the future. Stay tuned. Even better, use the comment form to sign up for update alerts.
UPDATE Dec.11, 2021: As depicted on the home page the recent articles that the Wall Street Journal and others have been running based on the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugens revelations, shown as "Coming Soon" are in fact coming soon - this is not a breaking news type site. I typically wait for the scandal to progress until I can access all the published (and non-published) details before giving the complete in-depth analysis in a time-line format you've all come to both appreciate, and expect from The Mask. Stay tuned!!
UPDATE May 26, 2021: As the Political Ads Fiasco is winding down, The Mask is currently searching out the next scandal/crisis that will be exposed here. Also, considering producing an open timeline page that will have random, current Facebook news (which inevitably will be scandal/crisis related).
UPDATE (PAF) April 4, 2021: The NEW Political Ads Fiasco - P2 (PAF2) page is now current thru March 28, 2021. The political advertising scenario is winding down with Trump now claiming to be starting his own social media outlet. He is still soliciting funds from his supporters (many of whom were duped into recurring payments), so he has the resources to pursue that option. Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internet!
UPDATE (PAF) Oct. 18, 2020: The Political Ads Fiasco (PAF). Due to the sheer volume of content the Timeline page is being split into two pages. P1 will cover the complete backstory from the original FEC request by Facebook in 2011 up through Dec. 2019. Then P2 picks up in Jan. 2020 and is being updated regularly.
UPDATE (PAF) Jan. 29, 2020: The new Political Ads Fiasco (PAF) page; Currently playing out in real-time, our exclusive timeline content has just gone live! As this is a still-evolving story, please check back regularly for the latest!
UPDATE (CA) July 12, 2019: The Washington Post reported that the FTC voted 3-2 to impose a $5 billion fine on Facebook for privacy violations. There will be additional stipulations imposed by the FTC to be announced at a later date. Although $5 billion is a substantial amount it represents a very light slap on the wrist as Facebook's 1st quarter revenue in 2019 was $15 billion. Neither Facebook or the FTC offered comment on this development. Facebook's stock price jumped up 1.8% on the news. Stay tuned for more.