Facebook is sorry.
It's sorry for clogging your feed with clickbait headlines that lead to lame churnalism sites. It's sorry for friend requests and messages from people who don't exist and spammed comments by Russian trolls. It's sorry for helping to flip a presidential election and for ruining Thanksgiving forever by spreading fake news. And it's sorry for letting all your personal data get stolen, several times.
Okay, Facebook is sorry, but maybe not in those exact words.
A new ad campaign the platform is rolling out nationwide today seeks to mollify users who are angry about the way Facebook has treated them. It kicks off by reminiscing about the good old days, when the feed was full of posts by old friends, copypasta text quizzes, baby photos with no privacy settings and boomers taking their first timid steps onto The Facebook.
"Then something happened," a non-threatening voiceover admits. "We had to deal with spam, clickbait, fake news and data misuse."
That's quite the euphemism for the relentless drive toward monetization, and the network becoming a free-for-all, a marketplace of ideas where ad spend determined who could hear you and foreign governments preyed on digital illiteracy to amplify their own narratives.
"Facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy," the V.O. continues, but there aren't any specifics about how exactly it will do that. Judging from Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress earlier this month, the company may not be sure itself. But as it wrestles with its outsized role in politics and as one of the main avenues for communication and speech in the modern world, it does look like it's going to try to fix things.
Testing for this campaign began in Chicago in mid-March, so it seems the turnaround was quick. Facebook hasn't yet reponded to our question on whether recent events (Cambridge Analytica, Zuck on the Hill) affected the final spot. The campaign is running through the summer everywhere--on TV, in cinemas, out-of-home placements on mass transit and billboards and, of course, on Facebook.
But given the company's just-announced first-quarter results, no apology necessary?