A few years ago, any reasonable and ambitious human being would have jumped at the chance to be part of Facebook. The social media giant is by far one of the most popular platforms in use across demographics, income levels, and even geographical boundaries.
In fact, when I signed up with my local staffing firm, I let the recruiter know I’d be open to any role at Facebook. But over recent years, perception about Facebook in the general public has changed, especially after the Cambridge Analytica saga. Not just among users, but also among its own employees.
Right Off the Bat
Let’s get one thing straight. Nobody is denying Mark Zuckerberg’s brilliance in creating what is the most sophisticated advertising model in history. Yes, Google may be larger in terms of reach. However, Facebook is much more streamlined in terms of collecting data, tracking users, and targeting them with relevant ads.
These are facts, and nobody, least of all me, wants to take away from the innovation, hard work, and dedication that got Facebook where it is today. But the thing is, that is just one side of the story. A side that everyone knows and has heard about. Unfortunately, there is also another side.
Facebook executive Steven Levy has a book on working for the social media giant, recently published by Random House. Facebook: The Inside Story is the culmination of years of working at Facebook with access to employees and stakeholders. Like many of the author’s other works, it makes for a fascinating read of an insider’s account of Facebook.
The book features accounts from different Facebook employees, many of whom shared a room with Zuckerberg as he made important decisions about Facebook. Of course, many of these weren’t your average recruits from a marketing temp agency.
Facebook has some of the brightest talents in the world. The problem, according to an executive quoted in the book, arises when leaders begin to believe to implicitly in themselves and take any disagreement as a sign that they are correct. While this may seem like common sense to many, it is no secret how many leaders fail to imbibe this advice.
The inside Story tells us about how the company has weathered missteps and scandals, and how they have affected the people working in it. In fact, Levy talks at length about an internal poll from 2018 that the Wall Street Journal reviewed in detail.
Thousands of Facebook employees stated in the poll that they no longer had faith that the social media platform was heading in a direction that benefited the world.
The Believer vs The Reality
Facebook faces many challenges, as is expected of a company of its size and stature. However, perhaps the biggest challenge is that there is a disconnect between the reality of the social media platform, and how its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees it.
By all accounts, Zuckerberg is a true and firm believer in the vision of Facebook he has in his head. The problem is that Facebook in his head is very different from Facebook in real life.
What the 2018 Congressional Hearing Tells Us
If you think we are stretching it by stating that there may be a gap between what Facebook is and what it’s creator thinks it is, you may want to read on. This disconnect manifested itself quite clearly during the much-hyped and televised Congressional hearing in 2018. Mark Zuckerberg was asked to testify about his platform, and answer hard questions about the working of its advertising business model.
As was evidenced in the testimony, Zuckerberg was oddly flustered with some of the questions. In fact, in Facebook: The Inside Story, Levy tells us that Zuckerberg himself expressed gaps in his knowledge about how Facebook uses external data on its ad system, a little after the hearing. This is the disconnect.
The way you and I see Facebook isn’t how Zuckerberg sees it. Yes, it is a very useful platform in that it offers a digital space for people to socialize and share opinions, images, and videos. But at the same time, the cost you pay to use it comes in the shape of foregoing personal data privacy.
And apparently, everyone at Facebook except Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Part of maintaining a strong employer brand is listening to your top quality talent you hired to do their jobs well.
Taking your entire team on board with your vision and your goal is essential. Otherwise, your employees will grow disillusioned, and you will end up losing some of your best talents.
Rosie Harman is a senior content strategist working for CGT Staffing. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from The University of Texas at Arlington and has spent the majority of her career working in tech giants in Texas.
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