With over 14 million users in Sri Lanka, Viber ranks among the top messaging apps in the country. Today, the company made a huge announcement. It would be cutting all business ties with Facebook. The app will remove Facebook Connect, Facebook SDK, and the popular GIPHY integration to share gifs. The company also announced that it would no longer be advertising on the social network as well. But why did Viber take this decision to sever ties with Facebook? Simply put, Viber had enough of the tech goliath’s recklessness.
In a press statement, Viber pointed to the protests that have broken out in the US against police brutality. In their wake, six organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and NAACP criticized Facebook’s inability to protect users from hate speech. A phenomenon we in Sri Lanka have experienced first hand. Hence, these organizations have called on advertisers to pause their spending on the platform.
The statement also mentions the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal. The incident, which occurred two years ago, saw the data of 87 million Facebook users harvested improperly by a political firm. It highlighted the need for better protection for personal data and saw Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, having to testify in front of a highly publicized session of the US Senate.
Commenting on this decision, CEO of Viber, Djamel Agaoua said, “Facebook continues to demonstrate poor judgment in understanding its role in today’s world. From the company’s mishandling of data and lack of privacy in its apps to its outrageous stand of avoiding the steps necessary to protect the public from violent and dangerous rhetoric, Facebook has gone too far. We are not the arbiters of truth, but the truth is some people are suffering from the proliferation of violent content and companies must take a clear stand.”
Viber expects the removal of all Facebook integrations within the app to be completed by July 2020. However, ad spending on the platform by Viber has already ceased. Increasingly, several other advertisers have also begun boycotting the social media giant. Viber is the latest to join their ranks. Their actions send a powerful message to Facebook that it needs to do more to stop the spread of hate speech. Hopefully, the company will listen.