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Module 2 Discussion A
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Metaverse (formerly Facebook) is one of the USA’s largest for-profit corporations, has approximately 2.9 billion global users on its flagship platform, and also owns Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Its mission is to “Give people the power they need to build community and bring the world closer together.” The company generates revenue by using its platform for advertising. While users do not pay a fee, Facebook does collect data about the user, which it uses to target specific users for specific advertisements. In order to maximize revenue, the company uses an algorithm that determines what content is displayed on a user’s screen, which focuses on increasing user engagement, or how much time a user is viewing the platform screen (and advertisements).
The company has had its problems in the past with various stakeholders. Privacy advocates have long voiced concerns about the amount of data Facebook has about its users, and how that information is shared with advertisers. There are concerns that “Terms of Service” rules that govern user behavior are not applied to “high-profile” users that generate high user engagement. The Instagram platform has been criticized for being harmful to the mental health of teenage girls, and targets teens and pre-teens, even after the company became aware of these problems. The algorithm that increases user engagement at the same time has been accused of contributing to the polarization of politics in the USA (among many other causes). There are concerns that human traffickers, drug smugglers, white supremacists, insurrectionists, and others use the platform for illegal activities that are harmful to society. There are also concerns that Facebook has been used by groups to spread religious and racial hatred, and has even contributed to ethnic cleansing and genocide in other countries such as Myanmar. There has been evidence that some foreign countries were buying advertisements and creating groups in attempts to influence US elections.
For your discussion post, consider the following questions (you do not need to address all of them), or you may generate your own interesting question(s):
As a for-profit public corporation, does a company like Metaverse have a responsibility to society, other than maximizing profits for shareholders? Would it make a difference if Metaverse were privately-owned?
If a company argues that it is simply maximizing user engagement for advertisers, does that absolve it of responsibilities to stakeholders and society?
As a US company, does it have obligations to the other countries and societies in which it operates? Should it concern itself with promoting democracy?
If it fails in its societal obligations, what will the effects be on the company?
Is long-term profitability at odds with addressing the needs of various stakeholders? Would government regulation to address some of these stakeholder issues help or hinder the company? Society?
Should society grant for-profit public companies that fail stakeholders the right to exist as a company with limited liability to shareholders?
Are there any parallels between your current organization (no company name needed) and Metaverse regarding how stakeholder issues are (or aren’t) addressed?
You are required to post an initial post and reply to at least one other student post. Feel free to substantively reply to more than one post. You are required to post your initial post before being able to see other student’s posts. The initial post should be about 500-600 words or more and include references. Please review the rubric (click three vertical dot icon on the upper right) to assure yourself that all requirements are met. Please let your instructor know if you have any questions.
The Wall Street Journal published a series of investigative articles about Facebook, an index of these articles is here.
(Links to an external site.)
These articles should be available through the Wayne State Library if you do not have a WSJ subscription.
Facebook’s Company Information webpage
(Links to an external site.)
An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination