Sorry once again

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Facebook
Graph courtesy: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity

The first round of Congressional hearings of the joint Senate Judiciary and the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Facebook data privacy case was held on Tuesday 13th April. A barrage of questions directed at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were faced with customary guile. They were all soft questions that allowed Zuckerberg to explain how FB works. Zuckerberg was profusely apologetic as expected, but did not shy away from giving evasive answers. In fact, he did a fairly professional job of jumping over booby traps, and avoided revealing how Facebook tracks user data from site to site and device to device. He also avoided disclosing how Facebook analyzes the user data that is consolidated by it into commercial information, packaged and provided on the platform and used by thousands of advertisers such as Cambridge Analytica across the world. But these are early days. Analysts state that the US Congressional hearings always begin on a soft note allowing the respondent to give his version of the story without any hard cross-questioning initially.

So Zuckerbeg was allowed to apologize which he did, saying, “I am sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.” But there were few takers of his apology. Senator Blumenthal made it clear that lawmakers were not interested, saying, “We have seen this apology tour before” and by displaying an oversized poster board showing Zuckerberg and his previous apologies in 2006 and 2011. Even visitors at the hearing were unforgiving with young protestors wearing oversized sunglasses with ‘Stop Spying’ written in pink while others wore #DeleteFacebook T-shirts.

The Center for Public Integrity, which has been tracking the lack of privacy concerns in social media, cynically predicted the outcome of the congressional proceeding even before it started. Alvaro Bedoya, executive director at the center, said, “If we’ve learned anything from Facebook historically, it’s that they are willing to tell one story to the public and do something different behind the scenes.” The Center says ever since 2009 when Google, Facebook and Amazon started spending heavily on congressional lobbying, no law on privacy and security of data has been passed in the United States. The accompanying graph gives interesting data on lobbying with Washington power brokers that results in such cynicism. So consumers have little option today. Either #DeleteFacebook or Forget Privacy.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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