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Social responsibility plays a significant role in any company’s work since it influences all the processes within the organization as well as its collaboration with stakeholders. As one of the largest social platforms, Facebook is highly dependent on its corporate social image. During the past few years, the organization has been at the center of major disputes over the level of privacy protection and ethical considerations. The paper analyses Facebook’s social responsibility and ethical decision-making and offers a three-step revised strategic plan for further work.
The Analysis of Social Responsibility
Present-day social responsibility standards and norms are very strict due to the need to include a variety of aspects. According to European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), social networks need to maintain such data subject rights as breach notification, the right to be forgotten, data portability, the right to access, and privacy by design (“GDPR key changes,” n.d.). Currently, Facebook cannot boast a high level of privacy protection and transparency (Shackelford, 2018). In this respect, Facebook’s strategic plan cannot be regarded as compliant since the company has faced many issues related to the reliability of data shared on the website (Wells & Winkler, 2017).
Facebook’s present strategy plan has some problems that form potential risks both to internal and external stakeholders, such as users, employees, advertisers, communities, and governments (Kissinger, 2018). At present, the major gap is the inability to protect the website from deceitful information (Wells & Winkler, 2017). Significant threats resulting from this gap are the loss of revenue, the inability to protect private data, and, most importantly, wrong decisions based on untruthful information obtained from Facebook.
As many as two-thirds of Facebook users consider the platform as their main source of receiving news (Wells & Winkler, 2017). Therefore, the present strategy plan hurts users by falsifying their opinions. For employees, the plan’s negative impact is undermined corporate loyalty and the inclination to leave the job (Wells & Winkler, 2017). The evolution of strategic planning in Facebook could have been affected by the rapid development of competitor platforms and applications.
Unlike its major rivals, such as WhatsApp, Twitter, MySpace, and others, Facebook offers more options, which does not always lead to beneficial results (Wells & Winkler, 2017). For instance, the decision to add news articles to the platform’s features led to claims against Facebook and its political involvement in the last U.S. elections (Wells & Winkler, 2017). Compared to outside industries, such as television and newspaper publications, Facebook’s social responsibility is inconsistent since it does not have enough censorship.
The company’s decision-making processes are developed quite interestingly. Rapid decision-making and creative problem solving are the approaches favored in Facebook (Wells & Winkler, 2017). However, the existing strategy does not seem to build a strong link between decisions and social responsibility (Romm, 2018). According to Hoffman (2016), Facebook’s ethical decision-making processes are unclear, and it is not possible to understand by what ideals and values they are governed. In relation to the 2016 scandal, it seems viable to conclude that the ethical aspect was not given proper emphasis in the organization.
The analysis of Facebook’s content indicates that during the elections, 38% of right-wing posts and 19% of left-wing ones were inaccurate or nearly inaccurate (Wells & Winkler, 2017). Thus, the main gap in the decision-making process that might be regarded as a potential risk to stakeholders is the limited or no use of ethical considerations when making decisions.
Taking into account the data available from the case study and research, privacy protection is the component that urgently needs to be enhanced by Facebook. The company has gained a rather negative image in the view of the past few years’ events related to its activity. As Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor, remarks, Facebook treats its users as “battery animals or experimental rats” (Kharpal, 2018, para. 7).
Manipulative techniques used by the platform to collect data from its clients and to present some facts to them frequently are unethical. Compared to other relevant organizations in the same industry, Facebook is not unique in its problem. For instance, in the analysis of Twitter and Facebook, Groves and Drury (2014) note that both of these social media applications need to strengthen their filters and increase their social responsibility.
Overall, according to the case study, all social websites may violate social responsibility, but Facebook is at a higher threat due to the number of features it has and the inability to control them timely and appropriately (Wells & Winkler, 2017). The potential risks, which include the reduction of customer loyalty and the loss of revenues, are common for all social platforms. Thus, the appropriate components for Facebook’s strategic corporate social responsibility important for various stakeholders are:
- enhanced privacy protection measures (for customers);
- the improved advertising process (for advertisers);
- beneficial human resource options (for employees);
- support of governmental programs (for governments);
- giving the increased priority to communities as stakeholders (for communities as potential stakeholders) (Kissinger, 2018).
A Revised Strategic Plan
To remain successful and gain back the trust of its users, Facebook needs to be more careful in what concerns its ethical approaches. When creating a new strategic plan, the impact of both internal and external factors was considered. Ethical issues were given particular prominence since they seem to affect Facebook’s image greatly. Each of the suggested measures is related to social responsibility since it can promote the company’s efforts in this direction. Thus, to address the potential risks and gaps regarding social responsibility, the following major aspects should be included in the plan:
- Improved privacy protection measures should be introduced and regularly assessed.
- Ethical issues, such as checking data thoroughly before offering it to customers, should be considered.
- More attention should be paid to communities as a stakeholder group.
The analysis of the case study allowed identifying several crucial gaps and risks in Facebook’s current strategic plan. To enhance the company’s performance, a revised plan is suggested. The major issues included in this plan are concerned with privacy protection, ethical considerations, and the development of stakeholder groups. The improvement of social responsibility strategies will enable Facebook to increase customer loyalty and enhance its image.
GDPR key changes. (n.d.). Web.
Groves, J., & Drury, I. (2014). Facebook, Twitter, and Google have ‘social responsibility to remove terrorist propaganda from the internet, says David Cameron. Mail Online. Web.
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Hoffman, A. L. (2016). Facebook has a new process for discussing ethics. But is it ethical? The Guardian. Web.
Kharpal, A. (2018). Social media users are treated as ‘experimental rats,’ EU data watchdog says as he urges more changes from Facebook. CNBC. Web.
Kissinger, D. (2018). Facebook Inc. corporate social responsibility & stakeholder analysis. Web.
Romm, T. (2018). Facebook faces fresh lashing from nine countries for its inability to stop the spread of fake news. The Washington Post. Web.
Shackelford, S. (2018). Facebook’s social responsibility should include privacy protection. The Conversation. Web.
Wells, R. J., & Winkler, C. A. (2017). Facebook fake news in the post-truth world. Harvard Business School Case, 717-473.