Reputation Crisis? Facebook Meets Cambridge Analytica


Citation Note

Based on field research; X pages

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Objective

1. Analyze the link between reputation management and crisis2. Analyze the challenges of reputation management in the digital age3. Examine the role of leadership and corporate culture in reputation management4. Understand the role and relevance of counter-institutional mechanisms, such as whistleblowing, to check corporate power and influence5. Examine the interplay/nexus of politics and business and their ethical and societal consequences6. Understand the wider scope of corporate responsibilities in business organizations7. Analyze how large tech companies manage or reconcile the paradox between commercial and societal interests

Abstract

The case is built around the scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the British data analytics firm that harvested data from 87 million Facebook users, without their knowledge or consent, and used these data to influence voter opinion in favor of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and in the lead up to the Brexit vote. Although Facebook’s meteoric rise has been peppered with some controversy, the social network is currently embroiled in controversies and debates of a more serious nature and magnitude, from security and privacy of user data to election meddling to role in spreading misinformation, falsehoods, and hate speech. Particularly in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook suffered a drop in brand value, reputation, and trust. Paradoxically, user base has continued to grow as has financial performance. Drawing on relevant academic concepts, the case impels students to reflect on the paradoxes confronting Facebook as the ramifications of the scandal unraveled. It allows students to analyze Facebook’s actions and critically think what, if anything, does Facebook need to do in order to future-proof its reputation.