The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt businesses large and small. As Canada struggles towards a recovery, Yahoo Finance Canada presents CRISIS MANAGEMENT, with policy expert Sean Speer from the Public Policy Forum. Each episode Sean and host Alicja Siekierska dig into the challenges Canada’s economy and industry face, and the policy that could support or delay a recovery.
Despite scrutiny over Facebook’s practices on how it addresses misinformation or protects user information, its stock has provided great returns for investors in the past five years. Ramona Pringle, a tech expert and associate professor at Ryerson University, says any time the company did see a dip in its stock, it’s always because of a scandal affecting the company publicly. She also says that when we’re looking at Facebook’s stock, we’re not looking at it as Facebook proper, but Facebook as an entire company and “oligarch.” “They’ve been really clever in knowing which platforms to acquire. WhatsApp certainly internationally is very actively used probably more internationally than it is here in Canada. They don’t have all their eggs in one basket, let’s put it that way and I think it has benefited them,” she said. In December, the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. and 46 states sued Facebook, accusing the company of buying out smaller payers in order to squash competition in the social media industry. Pringle adds that it’s been good business for Facebook to keep WhatsApp and Instagram as separate entities and not marketing them as Facebook products. She said Facebook will do what it needs to do to protect its business. “When it comes to things like anti-trust and competitiveness… the fact that they own so many of the most popular, most powerful social media platforms, they know what they’re doing and in that sense when you step back and look at it objectively, just in terms of a business that they’re running, and that growth that we see in charts, they’re doing a good job of it,” she said.
As Facebook continues to face intense scrutiny from governments around the world on tackling misinformation and anticompetitive practices, one tech expert says it’s likely Facebook will always have more power. Ramona Pringle, a tech expert and associate professor at Ryerson University, breaks down the relationship that Facebook has had with the government since 2016, saying the company is a business looking to profit through disrupting legacy institutions. “There is no more legacy institution than government, and you can see that there’s already, from the very beginning, this discomfort between social media platforms, Silicon Valley upstarts, and the government,” she said. “From the outside, it appears that they have no intention of partnering up with the government. It’s not their responsibility. This is why there are so many efforts to push for laws and regulations now because that’s the way you get them to play ball.” Pringle questions who has more power, adding that Facebook has more users than the population of Canada. “Everything comes down to power and who has power and what is the relationship between a company and a country going to be when one has substantially more power. Where does the power come from, is it institutional power like government? Or is it the power that comes from being a global superpower?”