Meta, otherwise known as Facebook, has been named the worst company of the year, according to a survey conducted by Yahoo Finance. The “honor” follows a bad year for the company, as it has faced 12 months of public backlash, criticism from all quarters, and even a rebranding of the social media company.
In addition to crowning its usual “best company of the year” (Microsoft for 2021), Yahoo Finance also did a “worst company of the year” survey. Facebook, now known as Meta, easily took the top slot. The poll of 1,500 individuals saw Facebook receiving 50% more votes than the runner-up “worst” company, the Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba.
Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. It’s been under the antitrust microscope and faced a flurry of allegations from a whistleblower claiming Facebook ignored safety issues for the sake of growth. Congress is constantly demanding answers from the company on both fronts. At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices. Other critics, including those on the left side of the aisle, claim Facebook allows the spread of misinformation.
What is especially interesting about the Company Formerly Known as Facebook is just how many and varied the reasons people dislike it. It received 50% more votes than the second-place finisher, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, not for one singular offense but for a litany of grievances from groups of people that may have little else to agree about.
The company faced numerous complaints of censorship, as conservatives felt that the “free-speech police” was being unfair and they were owed the right to say whatever they wanted to on the platform.
On the other side, the platform was criticized for failing to police significant misinformation that in the view of critics contributed to people not taking the pandemic’s potential for death seriously. Facebook was also blamed for the rise of far-right extremism and “undermining democracy worldwide,” as one respondent put it.
In addition to political criticism, the platform upset many respondents, due to its effects on children and young people, claiming Facebook’s Instagram photo service has effects on childrens’ mental health.
Facebook took the usual route that many large corporations have taken in the past, rebranding itself to “Meta.” Company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the renaming marked the start of a new direction for the company. The rebrand was seen by observers as an attempt to distract everyone from the ongoing news and scandals, and according to some participants in the survey, it worked.
One respondent said Facebook could redeem itself by acknowledging and apologizing for what it did and donating a “sizable amount” of its profits for a foundation to help reverse its harm. While some people saw the Meta rebrand as a cynical attempt to change the conversation… others were excited by the potential of a new direction that could a) be interesting and b) something different from the aging social media model.
During 2021, Facebook continued its public battle with Apple over changes in iOS and iPadOS that made it harder for companies to track users across other websites and apps. Facebook claimed Apple’s “App Tracking Transparency” hurts small businesses that rely on advertising to attract new customers. Zuckerberg went so far as to claim that Facebook’s lackluster growth in the last quarter of the year was partly to blame on Apple’s App Tracking Transparency.