Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, understands all so well that the continued sustainability of Facebook is at the mercy of its users and their perceived trust in the platform. Facebook makes money by serving ads to its users which are paid for by advertisers. These ads need to be highly targeted in order to deliver meaningful connections that users will find relevant and interesting and advertisers will be rewarded from. For this, Facebook needs personal data from profiles, behaviors and interests.
For Facebook to hold a healthy and trusting relationship with its users it not only needs to protect their privacy but also demonstrate some control in not abusing the data. This is why Facebook recently announced that they will stop using Whatsapp data in Europe to serve ads in Facebook and also pull back from targeting ads all over the Internet (outside of Facebook).
Apart from the fact that Facebook is having a really tough time competing with established technology competitors like Google’s DoubleClick, they understand that data is becoming a very sensitive issue and in order to keep their users, will need to demonstrate restraint on its usage.
Zuckerberg knows there is a big future outside of the display advertising industry. Consumer attention is shifting to social platforms and messenger apps and this is where he will place his focus. Delivering the best possible services and advertisements (via chatbots and intelligent assistants) in these platforms where traditional tech companies like Google are not yet established.
Facebook also announced they will buy back $6 billion in stock which is a good sign they have a positive outlook on the future and are wanting to hold more control over the company in order to serve their customers with less pressure from Wall street to return profits.