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Inside the Social Network: Facebook’s Difficult Year

TVMucho Show of the week

Mon, July 15th, 2019

Tuesday 9pm – 10pm, BBC2

It would be fair to say Facebook has never had an easy ride in anything it has ever done, even at its predecessor’s inception ‘Facemash’, Mark Zuckerberg found himself at the threat of expulsion – it transpired he had broken copyright rules of Harvard University, as well as violating individuals privacy. You can’t help but feel that through the further developments of his social media empire, it wasn’t the only time he had agitated and misled people about their data use – in fact, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narenda all sued Zuckerberg for misleading them and using their intellectual property to create facebook – the case was settled out of court in 2008 for 1.2 million Facebook shares (worth about $300 million at Facebook’s Initial Public Offering!).

The scandals are a far cry from what Zuckerberg tried to create – he simply tried to bring people together online and rate girls, initially at Harvard and then across the academic network and to the phenomenal company we see today. You can’t argue he has not achieved this – a third of the planet use the network.

This documentary provides a fascinating insight into the quirky and ‘cool’ company which allows its employees to skateboard and scoot around the premises, provides them with free food, drink and sweets and along all the corridors has enormous ‘Facebook Walls’ where everyone can write down what is on their mind. It also has a very unique induction course where new recruits are addressed by the director of communications, stating Facebook’s ethos: “We don’t believe in being a******s”. It’s a very lively and upbeat place, but we see how the incidents of 2018 has impacted the company and threatens its very existence.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal placed Facebook firmly in the negative light, the harvesting of users’ personal data made front pages around the world, but also the use of the platform to project hate speech has resulted in Zuckerberg facing questions from Congress. The BBC cameras follow the staff as they try to recover the situation and address the problems, we meet one member of staff who decrees to ‘noobs’ (new employees) “We don’t tolerate d***s”. It appears the company is trying to turn the corner, and the unintended consequences such as the increase in India-wide blood donorship through Facebook cannot be overlooked.

 

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