International banking giant UniCredit Group is dropping Facebook advertising over ethical concerns, Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Mustier said during a Tuesday call with analysts. “We will not use it until it has proper ethical behavior,” the industry veteran said in reference to the decision, alluding to a wide variety of scandals the social media company went through over the course of this year. Mr. Mustier specifically pointed to the Cambridge Analytica scandal as being related to the move and raised concerns about the company’s past promises over not leveraging certain user data which it ended up breaking, albeit without elaborating on the matter.
The Cambridge Analytica debacle was primarily aimed at profiling American voters and hence had a limited impact on the rest of the world, though several million Europeans still had their digital privacy violated as part of the political consulting firm’s activities. Cambridge Analytica hired an outside academic consultant whose online personality quiz featuring a Facebook login gathered data on everyone who took it and tens of millions of other people who were only Facebook friends with individuals who technically gave their consent to have their data harvested. Facebook estimated up to 87 million users were compromised as part of the operation, with its CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself being among that group. The consulting firm that ended up dissolving after the 2014 incident was discovered earlier this year denied using the data in any manner after being accused of seeking to leverage it for influencing voters at the 2016 presidential election. The company insisted what it did was a standard industry practice at the time and can still largely be considered as such, having been reiterating that stance until the very end.
Facebook still isn’t facing a major advertiser boycott but its efforts to fight misinformation impacted its user engagement rates, leaving it with fewer opportunities to display advertising, its primary source of revenue. Following the publication of the company’s second-quarter financials, investors erased over $120 billion in its market valuation, discouraged by slow revenue and profit margin growth projections
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