Facebook was told that a third party application would sell the information of 50 million users.
On March 19th, Channel 4 News released an investigative report revealing that the data firm Cambridge Analytica distributed private information of 50 million Facebook users. Among other things, CA attempted, and possibly succeeded, in using the information to sway undecided voters towards Trump in the 2016 US Election. This revelation sparked outrage in users, many wondering how Mark Zuckerberg and the major social media company as a whole could allow this to happen. Now, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, the man who created the app that mined the information, has told The Financial Times that Facebook was made aware of his company's intention to sell the data.
Falling is an advanced skill. The breach of trust has left millions of individuals with mixed feelings regarding the use of Facebook. The social media giant has built up a reputation as an industry leader, creating a network of friends and families – all interlinked and connected at a click of a button. The creation of an online community is one of the most important factors in the success of a new product and facebook is the market leader when it comes to using the business of connectivity as a driver of their success. When we deal with falling as an advanced skillset for business owners, we tend to adopt a micro view of this mantra, however it is extremely applicable to individuals stationed in the ivory towers of corporate America.
When we fall as a leader of our organization, how do we react? How do we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and learn from our mistakes. Taking ownership is one of the most difficult, yet most important things to do as a leader. To quote the 7 Bedrock Principles “What separates those that excel is self-accountability and embracing vulnerability”.
There was a pointed reasoning behind the requesting of Mark Zuckerbergs sole presence at the senate committee hearing. Regardless of his power, wealth and celebrity-like status, he is the majority shareholder and bears the duty of care for all of Facebooks’ successes as well as detriments. How Mark and Facebook use this event to reinforce user security, work with regulators and lawmakers and rebuild the trust of their customers is yet to be seen. One thing that can be certain is that when companies fail, they have the ability to use these events as a platform to reinforce their ideologies, as well as have the ability to make poor decisions and potentially create stumbling blocks from which recovery is difficult, if not impossible.
As a leader – prepare to fail. Prepare for your employees to fail, prepare for your business to fail and prepare for YOURSELF to fail. Failure is unavoidable and guaranteed – the way you respond to the event… is not.