2018 was the year Facebook and Twitter grew up

When a young person turns 18, in most countries they are considered adults, liable for their mistakes and mi...

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 8:59 PM
Updated: Dec 28, 2018 8:59 PM

When a young person turns 18, in most countries they are considered adults, liable for their mistakes and misdeeds.

2018 was the year social media and tech companies like Facebook and Twitter grew up.

Business figures

Companies

Continents and regions

Digital privacy

Discrimination

Europe

Facebook

Government and public administration

Internet and WWW

Jack Dorsey

Mark Zuckerberg

Northern Europe

Politics

Social media

Societal issues

Society

Technology

Twitter

United Kingdom

From the continued effects of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to social media being used to help spur horrific violence in places like Myanmar, these tech firms are no longer considered startups run by dorky whiz kids.

They are now the favorite target of angry users and hungry politicians — wanting to make the companies pay both figuratively and literally after years of free rein.

Facebook's crisis year

Of all the platforms, Facebook (FB) and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has become the poster child for all the ills of the internet.

Zuckerberg himself was dragged in front of lawmakers in Washington and Brussels, where he faced both anger and cluelessness.

He is still resisting several calls by UK lawmakers to answer questions in a similar format. He even failed to do so when the committee investigating the company set up shop in Washington in February for a special hearing. He did the same when it invited lawmakers from eight different countries to join them for a "grant international hearing" in November.

Instead Zuckerberg's deputies were dispatched to face the onslaught.

Beyond making Zuckerberg available for a hearing in the UK, Facebook is also currently fighting a fine from a regulator related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

And whereas once Zuckerberg scoffed at the idea that Facebook could have any effect on an election, Facebook in 2018 was full of apologies and admissions they could "do better" — all the while issuing several Friday night or holiday news dumps.

Hate speech

Where these platforms once saw themselves as neutral blank canvases for their users, they are now grappling with the reality that some of the lowest and worst of our societies are thriving on their platforms — and many believe it is up to companies like Facebook to control the spread.

In August, Facebook banned 20 organizations and individuals in Myanmar, including a senior military commander, acknowledging that it was "too slow" to prevent the spread of "hate and misinformation" in the country after the United Nations "found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country."

Twitter (TWTR) also began to take more concrete steps to tackle hate speech and harassment on their platform, after years of becoming known as a platform where users sometimes faced sexist and racist attacks.

In September, Twitter announced a new policy prohibiting "dehumanizing speech," expanding on their hate speech conduct, banning direct attacks or threats of violence based on race, sexual orientation or gender.

Infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was banned from most online platforms, including Twitter, after CNN pointed out that Jones' videos and posts flew directly in the face of tech companies' rules and statements about their battles against misinformation.

YouTube, which is owned by Google (GOOGL), came under fire for its suggested and trending video algorithms, after a video suggesting one of the high school students who survived the Parkland, Fl. shooting was a "crisis actor" appeared as the number one trending video for hours.

Further investigations showed how the site's algorithm often recommended conspiracy theory videos to users following major news events, even if the user had not searched for it.

After months of criticism, the site announced in July that it was making changes to put more "authoritative content" in front of users. A few months prior the site also announced it would begin labeling content that came from state-sponsored outlets, like Russia's RT network.

On the regulatory side, Germany began enforcing a hate speech law, requiring social media sites remove hate speech within 24 hours or face fines of up to tens of millions of dollars — but thus far no company has faced major fines from the law.

Bots

Both Facebook and Twitter faced intense criticism following the revelations that foreign actors had used fake accounts, sometimes computerized "bots" to try and influence elections around the world or just to sow divisions.

Under pressure from politicians in the United States and Europe, both platforms made some of their most serious efforts to date to ban and remove millions of accounts deemed to be inauthentic.

The leaders

A common thread for Facebook and Twitter this year came in their CEOs: men considered amalgamations of aloof yet at times ruthless tech geniuses.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was mocked on Saturday Night Live for appearing like a robot in interviews and in hearings — seemingly just repeating well-rehearsed talking points.

Twitter's Jack Dorsey was accused of being "tone deaf" after posting glowing messages about a trip to Myanmar without mentioning the violence and persecution being faced by the Rohingya minority.

Beyond being a source of jokes, Dorsey and Zuckerberg, along with their fellow executives' demeanor has become an issue before the people who can really control them: government regulators.

By appearing detached and repeating talking points, or in Zuckerberg's case, not showing up at all to some hearings, politicians are getting increasingly angry and frustrated as they weigh further laws and regulations.

As Sen. Mark Warner said during a September hearing in Washington with Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, "The era of the wild west in social media is coming to an end."

GDPR

In Europe, the EU's big General Data Protection Regulation was finally implemented in May. And beyond incessant pop-ups asking for consent, the law was one of the first major sweeping attempts at regulating companies that have run free with user data for years. If companies fail to prove they have been handling data correctly, don't report security breaches within 72 hours, or hold data for longer than is necessary, they face penalties of billions of dollars.

In the waning days of 2018, a European regulator announced Facebook could be facing a multi-billion dollar fine if an investigation revealed the company failed to protect user privacy.

The Irish Data Protection Commission, which oversees Facebook's compliance with European law, said it received multiple reports of data breaches affecting the company.

What's next

2019 will be the year of regulation and taxes.

A UK committee investigating fake news and user data privacy will likely release its final report and begin proposing further rules and regulations.

GDPR will turn one and will likely begin to impose more fines.

How to tax tech companies will also become a major issue. A "digital services tax" in the UK on the revenues of profitable tech companies was proposed to come into force in 2020.

The French government has said, starting January 1, it will impose a new tax on the likes of Google and Facebook as soon as January 2019 if a broader European tax on such companies fails to pan out.

Whatever 2019 brings one thing is clear: The whiz kids are now the whiz adults.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751826

Reported Deaths: 13811
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033581790
Lake557861011
Allen41721692
St. Joseph37001565
Hamilton36612417
Elkhart29416461
Tippecanoe22926227
Vanderburgh22559400
Porter19364326
Johnson18481389
Hendricks17692317
Clark13231195
Madison13166344
Vigo12629253
LaPorte12425221
Monroe12219176
Delaware10969198
Howard10343225
Kosciusko9636121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8172157
Warrick7862156
Floyd7814180
Grant7246179
Wayne7165201
Boone6976103
Morgan6764141
Dubois6222118
Marshall6211116
Cass6023110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502296
Lawrence4749122
Gibson445395
Clinton443255
Harrison441775
DeKalb440085
Montgomery438890
Whitley406643
Huntington403181
Steuben400559
Miami395669
Jasper388855
Knox377491
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332453
Daviess3033100
Wells295381
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273172
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246236
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234631
Starke228058
Fountain221448
Sullivan214643
Owen212258
Fulton203443
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175144
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120748
Newton114436
Brown104443
Benton102514
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84015
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109374

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1288561469
Cuyahoga1158492216
Hamilton814161251
Montgomery525741049
Summit484431006
Lucas43380824
Butler39066606
Stark33348930
Lorain25690506
Warren24607305
Mahoning22383602
Lake21216389
Clermont20133253
Delaware18873136
Licking16668225
Fairfield16582204
Trumbull16559483
Medina15615273
Greene15289248
Clark14240306
Wood13296200
Portage13251216
Allen11916239
Richland11610211
Miami10857225
Wayne9147225
Columbiana9038230
Muskingum8908135
Pickaway8663122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8646139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6998133
Ross6946163
Geauga6843151
Scioto6536106
Belmont6159174
Union584849
Lawrence5739102
Jefferson5681159
Huron5550122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5323109
Athens524360
Auglaize502287
Mercer487585
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435897
Putnam4335104
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4045110
Brown402561
Logan387678
Preble3858105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359966
Williams348478
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318354
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285550
Hardin275565
Henry273667
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269260
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197448
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110024
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Mostly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 66°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 65°
The warming trend continues into Thursday with highs reaching into the middle 80s.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events