Facebook will not only survive but emerge even stronger
A view from Matt Adams

Facebook will not only survive but emerge even stronger

Havas Group Media's UK chief executive calls on the industry to stop casting Facebook as the devil and acknowledge the unprecedented pace of change it has set.

I think we have all spoken to a bunch of smart people over the last few years who have all claimed that change has never happened this fast before and will never be this slow again. 

It’s a simple phrase and one that I believe drives many in our industry.

But change is a simple fact of life. The pace may alter but the impact of our reactions to change is constant. Those that react will succeed. Those that don’t, won’t. It's that simple. 

Bear with me a moment to use an analogy. Years ago miners would carry a canary in a cage into the mine tunnels, to warn of poisonous gas. If dangerous gas was present, the gases killed the canary before killing the miners. A pretty explicit warning to exit the tunnels immediately. They would see the impact of air change demonstrated palpably and react before it harmed them . 

Wind forward to the past three weeks and the poisonous data security gas. One of the largest digital behemoths; Facebook, has stumbled and now needs to react to its very own warning canary. Much has been vocalised about the challenges they are going through with regards to how data is collected, modelled and used to drive influence. And not always to influence in areas that make many feel comfortable.

However, the media industry has been publically silent. Many have asked why. Fear of change or fear of how to react and save ourselves? 

Facebook will not only survive but will be stronger for it. They have reacted and escaped with their canary still able to sing. The pace of reaction and change that they have put forward in a short space of time is unprecedented. 

Applying the European GDPR standards to their platform worldwide is the gold standard. Vetting and restricting the data that can be collected from app developers is welcomed. Making it clearer and easier to understand what information they hold, why, and how to opt-out is needed. Policy will prevail. I could go on.

So, stop making Gif logos of Facebook with devil horns on, as you hide on LinkedIn. Stop saying that this has been done to make them richer and to keep all their data in a bigger silo. Stop saying that this has been part of their monetisation strategy all along. 

I believe that Facebook will now set the standard. They will do what they did when they started – always put the user first. And if they ever veered from this, they will return to the straight and narrow. 

Now is not the time to rattle the investment sabre as some will choose to do. There will be more poisonous gas and we will need to react to our canaries in cages. Some won’t come out alive, but many will. 

The industry needs to partner better, sling less mud and work together to ensure we have a sustainable and healthy relationship between consumers and brands, and those trusted to serve them both.

Matt Adams is chief executive of Havas Group Media UK & Ireland