Facebook is starting to look desperate.
Over the past weeks, the world’s largest social network has taken out several full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. The ads attacked Apple’s new privacy changes, which Facebook claims will severely hurt small businesses, and “will change the internet as we know it–for the worse.”
Facebook’s recent desperation isn’t surprising. It’s the culmination of a series of events that began years ago, and that we’ve been building toward for a long time.
“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” –Mark Zuckerberg
“Move fast and break things” was Facebook’s official motto for years. It was intended to provide direction to designers and managers, but it became an essential part of the company’s DNA.
Well, Facebook did move fast. And it broke a lot of things in the process.
The company broke important things, like the trust of its users. Many of whom began to understand that while Facebook’s product was “free,” they were paying by becoming the product.
For example, in exchange for the ability to keep up with friends and family, to have a personalized news feed, and to watch funny cat videos, users were encouraged to sell their online soul–in the form of personalized data that Facebook uses to sell relevant ads.
As public understanding increased, many began campaigning to “delete Facebook.”
But Facebook was too intoxicated with its growing user base to recognize the writing on the wall. After all, the company had withstood scandal after scandal. Billions of people continued to use Facebook.
The problem for Facebook is that Apple’s update is about to educate a lot of users on how much Facebook is actually tracking them–and it’s going to make it a lot easier for those users to opt out.
The fact that Facebook is fighting so hard against Apple shows that the company anticipates a huge hit to its business.
What about Facebook’s argument that Apple’s new policy will change the internet for the worse?
Facebook claims this change will lead to your favorite cooking sites or sports blogs needing to charge subscription fees, “making the internet much more expensive and reducing high-quality free content.”
But here’s the thing: The free content model has been broken for years. It’s why most online publications have already moved to other ways of making money, whether through subscriptions, products, or similar means.
In other words, Facebook isn’t just fighting Apple, it’s fighting the future.
The situation is clear: Facebook has been living in its own world for a long time. And barring a major change in direction, it’s a world that’s destined to come crashing down.
But Zuckerberg should have seen this coming. If anyone is aware, it’s him …
When you move fast, you break things.