Recently, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has compelled many Facebook users to limit their activity on the social network or delete their accounts all together. With growing opposition, some wonder if Facebook will survive as a social media platform. But despite user backlash, Facebook is poised to remain the most popular social media site based on online traffic trends and Facebook’s recovery initiatives.
The scandal, reported by the New York Times, revolves around accusations that the data of millions of Facebook users was sold to Cambridge Analytica, a political firm that allegedly used users’ private information, such as browsing history, to create ads that targeted them based on their political beliefs. When the story broke, the hashtag #deletefacebook began to trend on Twitter, the backlash will be short-lived as online traffic trends following user revolts have shown in the past. For instance in February, Snapchat changed its interface, inciting a massive backlash that caused many users to uninstall the app. However, Snapchat’s users began to return because of its popularity, and Facebook users will follow a similar pattern. As the scandal disappears from headlines, users will begin to reconnect with their friends and browsing news stories through the network once again.
While online traffic trends will determine the site’s overall success, Facebook’s response to the scandal will also help draw users back to the network. Facebook has already begun launching recovery initiatives to maintain user trust in the wake of the scandal. This includes reforming their privacy policies with users and third-party developers as well as a personal apology from Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder. It’s possible that these initiatives will reinforce user confidence in Facebook’s ability to keep their data secure; and over time, Facebook’s transgressions may be forgiven by their user base.
As the investigation into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica continues, Facebook’s popularity will be turbulent. Use of the network will fluctuate as the investigation discovers new information about the company’s involvement. The scandal will not fade into obscurity though, as discussions of online privacy and user rights have become nationwide debates.
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