Tech is in the midst of such a fascinating moment. I’ve written a lot about platforms and their users “growing up” and finding their way. After all, social networking and pervasive connectivity are still in their very early days.
More is being asked of tech platforms. More is being asked that they do “what’s right” and serve the greater good. This past week we saw Alex Jones removed first from Apple podcasts and then from Facebook, YouTube for violations of their policies.
We’ve seen Facebook emphasize content from friends and family instead of memes and a constant influx of news to make the platform more beneficial for users even if it means they spend less time on the platform (which they do).
Twitter just completed a purge of fake accounts and is working to bury tweets that espouse hate and racism. They purged these accounts at a time in which Wall Street wants to see user growth, not account purges.
In the past few weeks we also saw disappointing earnings reports for the major social social platforms, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise. After all, they’ve been actively taking steps to make their platforms less profitable in light of recent scandals, controversies and discoveries that this much connectivity might not be so good for us after all. It’s worth saying of course, that their steps were just that. Steps. They certainly didn’t do anything to undercut their business models. They did, however, slow down their efforts to grow.
All of those moves were made for the right reasons. We need to be more mindful about the role these platforms play in our lives. Now, we’re at a crossroads. Where do we go from here? What line are these platforms willing to go to in order to police their platforms? How much Wall Street dissatisfaction is too much?
Perhaps, the most important question for the leaders of these companies is how do they keep their employees motivated? From a talent perspective, this space couldn’t be more competitive. Morale is likely low among many of employees at many of these companies.
The noble causes Silicon Valley expressed years ago have evolved into defenses for existing. How these leaders retain talent, keep them motivated and push through all of this may one day be a text book case of how other business should handle similar situations... or how they shouldn’t.