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The Drum 2018 Review: Facebook, at the center of everything

By Andrew Blustein, Reporter

December 24, 2018 | 5 min read

Facebook is everywhere. It owns Instagram and Whatsapp, and its sprawling website is expanding beyond its news feed into stories, original content, and live sports. Even if you don't trust Facebook, you're still likely to use it.

Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg started the year off with a blog post outlining his goals for 2018, saying the site had "a lot of work to do" to fix important issues, such as fake news and brand safety concerns. A look back at 2018 shows that, despite some progress, he still has far to go to meet his objectives.

12 January: Facebook changes its algorithm to reprioritize posts from family and friends over businesses and media. Zuckerberg said such posts crowd out the "personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other."

11 February: Facebook sets aside $10m to reward users and 'community leaders' from around the world who "bring people closer together" on its platform.

22 February: Facebook begins overhauling its metrics offering to bring better clarity to advertisers over how their paid placements on the site perform.

17 March: Cambridge Analytica hits the fan. The political consultancy is accused of improperly gathering the personal information of 50m Facebook users to then run ads for Donald Trump in the 2016 US election. It took until 20 March for Facebook to respond, with vice-president of marketing Carolyn Everson saying, "If the allegations are true, this is an incredible violation of everything that we stand for."

10 April: US lawmakers grill Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill following the revelations from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Zuckerberg took questions for almost five hours on a wide range of topics including internet regulation, fake news, foreign interference, and the social network’s privacy policies.

8 June: Not a banner day to quell privacy concerns at Facebook. First, the site apologizes to 14m users after a bug saw some of their private posts inadvertently published to the public.

Second, reports came to light that Facebook granted trusted firms the right to access additional information about a user’s own Facebook friends, such as phone numbers and the degree of closeness between each user and others in their network, after the 2015 cut-off date at which it claimed to have ended the practice.

27 June: Facebook trials a subscription tool feature in the US and Europe for publishers who are growing concerned that the site isn't doing enough to help them monetize their content on Facebook's platform.

25 July: Facebook says it will end discriminatory advertising in the US. The social network gave itself 90 days to address the problem of minorities being blocked from viewing specific ads. The site would eventually remove 5,000 filter options linked to attributes such as ethnicity and religion that lead to discrimination via its ad targeting system.

24 August: Antonio Lucio comes over from HP to join Facebook as the company's new chief marketer.

29 August: Facebook Watch goes global after its initial year-long launch in the US. Today, the social network's TV-like service lets brands across 40 countries buy ad space.

8 October: Facebook pushes into smart home space with Portal, a camera-equipped speaker. A week later, Facebook admits data captured via Portal can be repurposed for targeted ads displayed elsewhere, just days after confirming that 50m accounts have been compromised by hackers.

18 October: Facebook is accused of deceiving advertisers by inflating ad views by up to 900%.

27 November: Global MPs question Facebook on fake news and ponder regulation. Zuckerberg was notably absent from the hearing.

29 November: After pushing back the verification protocol, Facebook finally begins requiring political advertisers in the UK to confirm their identity and location, and to. disclose who paid for the ad.

19 December: The attorney general of Washington DC slaps Facebook with a lawsuit over its misuse of user data stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Just four days earlier, Facebook copped to a bug exposing the private pictures of 6.8m users through third-party apps.

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