This week the social media giant everyone loves to hate turned 15. And like many adolescents, Facebook has a complicated relationship with trust.
Polls show that public trust in the platform has been lagging since the 2016 election. There’s a pervading sense that “In Facebook’s maw, each of us became a new kind of surveilled and manipulated commodity,” as MIT’s Sherry Turkle told Vox.
And yet, despite a solid year of revelations highlighting just how much the platform has been eavesdropping on users and profiting from their data, Facebook reported continued growth in its Q4 earnings call last week, boasting more than 171 million active users in the United States alone.
There are many reasons people decide to stick it out with Facebook even when they have misgivings about the company’s actions, as Monitor writers Eoin O’Carroll and Noble Ingram explored in December.
But one reason that Facebook continues to grow is that, for all of the company’s misdeeds, the platform offers people something they crave: the promise of better connections to each other.
Perhaps Facebook’s biggest benefit to society these past 15 years was not connecting the world, but helping the world to see just how much it yearns to be connected.
Now onto our five stories for your Wednesday.