Face It, Facebook Won't Change Unless Advertisers Demand It 廣告商強烈要求 臉書才會改變
Facebook has endured one of the most punishing stretches of corporate coverage in recent memory, exposing its immense power and blithe disregard for its deleterious impacts.
But none of it really matters.
One overarching theme of the coverage, prompted by the meting out of tens of thousands of pages of internal documents by the whistleblower and former employee Frances Haugen, is that Facebook's business priorities trump user privacy and safety. Facebook, Haugen told the Senate last month, knows how to remedy many of its problems "but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people."
The Washington Post last week detailed how Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, often overruled researchers' concerns and suggestions in pursuit of growth. And The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on Haugen's trove, demonstrated how Facebook continued to pursue younger users despite evidence that Instagram negatively affected the mental health of teenagers and worsened some teen girls' body image issues.
The coverage — including documentation that Facebook largely neglected regions outside the United States that are more susceptible to real-world harm from social media posts, among other ills — presents a chilling portrait of a company willing to let its website be overrun by hateful rhetoric, dangerous misinformation and propaganda in pursuit of the almighty buck.
Facebook, of course, denies this, noting an investment of $13 billion and 40,000 employees "to do one job: keep people safe on Facebook."
Why doesn't this spiraling public relations crisis matter? Facebook simply hasn't been compelled to change its behavior. If pure profit, rather than safety or the dissemination of correct information, is the company's goal, it is a roaring success.
Until advertisers start paring back their spending on Facebook, Congress, Haugen and the press are but bumps in the road. Why would Pfizer or Nike walk away? Facebook is where their buyers are, and it's where Pfizer can ensure that drug marketing will be seen by 40-something rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Facebook has demonstrated it won't address its systemic problems until forced to do so. Now, it appears, only advertisers can make the status quo unprofitable and unsustainable.
Even Nobel Winners Face Supply-Chain Problems 諾貝爾得主的書 冷門難買
When Abdulrazak Gurnah released his 10th book, "Afterlives," last year, his editor was sure it would become his first major bestseller. For more than three decades, he had drawn stellar reviews but never gained a large readership.
"I have felt there's a much bigger audience for him out there," said Alexandra Pringle, executive publisher of Bloomsbury, who has worked with Gurnah for more than 20 years. "I thought, 'This is it, this is going to be his moment.' "
"Afterlives," which explores the brutality of Germany's colonial rule in East Africa, came out in Britain in September 2020 and was hailed as a masterpiece. But it failed to reach a wide readership and wasn't even published in the United States. Pringle wondered if Gurnah's moment might never come.
A year later, it finally did. Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, landing him in the company of Gabriel García Márquez, Albert Camus and William Faulkner, and he became the first Black laureate since Toni Morrison in 1993. The news sent booksellers across the world scrambling to stock his novels and set off a frenzy to secure translation and reprint rights. His agent, Peter Straus, said foreign rights to his books have sold in "30 territories and rising."
After the Nobel announcement, Straus began fielding bids from six American publishers for "Afterlives." U.S. rights to the novel sold to Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin Random House, which plans to release it in August 2022. Riverhead also acquired North American rights to two older Gurnah books, "By the Sea" and "Desertion," that had gone out of print.
Rebecca Saletan, who acquired the books for Riverhead, said in a news release that she was drawn to the "combination of narrative magic and a deeply inhabited and often devastating portrayal of the colonial and postcolonial experience" in Gurnah's work.
But as offers poured in from international publishing houses, many readers who were eager to sample Gurnah's work were frustrated. The audience was suddenly there, but copies of his books were not — in several cases, even e-book and audiobook versions aren't available.