February 8, 2019

Facebook at 15

Facebook at 15

I don’t have tons of time to spend on social media – especially during busy season. But when I do have a chance to catch up, it’s always fun to see what friends have been up to lately. Which is not to say I didn’t chronicle every moment of my weekend with Lily for the Super Bowl in Atlanta as one of my Facebook friends pointed out “in true documentary fashion.”

Can you believe Facebook just turned 15? It seems like just yesterday we were reading headlines about Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm-room startup at Harvard, watching The Social Network and hating the “Winklevi.”

That era seems very far away as we witness Facebook’s struggles (not financially) as a mature company. As the site has grown to 2.7 billion users, there are lingering, widespread concerns about how it collects and shares data on users, months after the Cambridge Analytica situation made news. Facebook was also accused of allowing fake ads that purportedly influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Mark Zuckerberg says we’ll have to “find the right balance between freedoms and responsibilities in a connected world,” as he posted on the site’s 15th anniversary.

No doubt, regulators will play a big role in figuring out the right balance – but so will business leaders. This isn’t a challenge that an IT department should address singlehandedly. It has ethical dimensions that affect an entire business. Senior leaders, who may have knowledge of relevant matters that aren’t routinely discussed by the tech team, need to be part of the conversation, too.

In the meantime, for all of you who post on social media, I’d recommend staying away from sharing anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of The New York Times. Even with all of the privacy settings on social sites, who can say with any certainty that the photos you post of your child’s college graduation, your latest fundraising event or the date of your next overseas business retreat won’t find their way into the wrong hands?

Remember those simple, old-fashioned ways of communicating like the post card? I found it refreshing that one of the souvenirs Lily wanted from Atlanta was a post card. Who would have thought in this day and age a 9-year-old would even know what one was. I love tech, but the pre-smart phone good old days are starting to look very appealing as we increasingly experience the underside of a more wired, social media-driven society. Perhaps the landline is due for a comeback, alongside the Polaroid cameras so many kids are carrying around these days.

Last night we held one of our regularly scheduled Marcum alumni events on Long Island, which I was fortunate enough to attend. It was great catching up with those that attended who’ve moved on to other endeavors. For those of you alums out there not on our list or interested in attending an alumni event in your hometown, let me know and we’ll make sure you’re included in the next one near you.