Radio Sputnik discussed the decline of the number of Facebook users in Europe with Mark Gregory, Associate Professor in Network Engineering from RMIT University, Australia.
Sputnik: Why is the number of users declining in Europe in particular despite the overall worldwide rise?
Mark Gregory: I think what we're seeing is that the early adopters of the platform were from the western countries, particularly, and we could see this now as being a matter of time before the mature use of the platform in those countries.
So, really, what we could be seeing is a combination of factors that are affecting the usage, but around the world, we are seeing a continual growth being usage. Particularly, as more people have come on to the network and broadband improves around the world. There is a lot to offer on the social media platforms and people are finding the way on those platforms.
Sputnik: Is there an impact of the Facebook previous scandal that happened last year? When, do you think, that this effect will actually slow down, or stop, or is it just a fact that Facebook is getting rather old if you like? Obviously, people around Europe are on the edge of innovation in technology. They are using other platforms, whereas you're talking about global growth and obviously with 3rd world countries, emerging countries, coming with the increase of broadband-like you're saying, they are likely to begin using Facebook. So, with Europe, thought to be the leading environment there, this could be a start for the phase of decline for Facebook globally. What are your thoughts on that?
Mark Gregory: So, I think that a lot of social media platforms have a problem with security and particularly Europeans consider their privacy to be one of the key factors when they look to use social media or online platforms.
So, it's not unexpected that companies affected by security scandals, particularly, if they're international companies, would expect customers to think twice about using those platforms until they sort out the security and the privacy.
As we know, the security and privacy in the digital world is a difficult thing. Companies, like Facebook and others, are struggling to deal with it in these types of environments. Obviously, from the big company's point of view, they've got two things: If they lose lots of people, they would put more money into privacy and security.
This does make a difficult for companies like Facebook and others to operate, they've got to deal with the laws in every different county they are operating in.
Sputnik: Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg is someone to attend a hearing data privacy and disinformation, half a year after his test. How revelatory could this hearing be and what are the British and Canadian MP's are hoping to hear from him?
Mark Gregory: I think that this is a follow-up hearing that they really want to know whether or not Mark Zuckerberg as the head of the organization is taking their concern seriously.
Many of the MP's want to hear directly from the man in charge, what is he doing about this data privacy concerns. In particular, the way in which the platforms are being used for disinformation.
The media barons over the decades have always used their platforms to push their own wheelbarrows. The difference is now that with the social media everyone gets a chance. So, the disinformation is something that we should expect to see grow, not diminish.
Sputnik: We know that the British chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that the government would slap a digital services tax on the domestic revenue of big internet companies. What do you make of this move? Is this gonna have any effect with regard to these tech giants and their attitudes towards the relationship with the governing bodies and the governments of countries? Have you got some thoughts on that?
Mark Gregory: Certainly! One of the things that we are seeing everywhere around the world and we've seen it here in Australia is that really over the last 10 to 15 to 20 years the large multinationals have become experts in dodging tax and really what we're seeing around the world at the moment is countries looking to find ways to call back some of their tax.
France wanted to bring in transaction, or what we call a turnover tax, so that for every transaction, which occurs in France, these companies would be required to pay an out-front tax, as a way of trying to call back some of this money. Other countries have proposed monitoring credit card transactions. We will be seeing, probably, early next year, a unified approach adopted to call back some of the money that the multinationals have been skimming off around the world.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.