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‘Move fast and break things' culture coming back to haunt?

‘Move fast and break things' culture coming back to haunt?

Facebook's mantra for developers used to be 'Move Fast and Break Things'. It meant that new tools and features on the platform might not be perfect at the start, but creation speed was key, even if there were some mistakes along the way.

That mantra changed a few years ago when the company's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg indicated he wanted to be a little more careful in getting it right the first time. He said that Facebook was now embracing the motto 'Move Fast with Stable Infra'. The motto changed, but did the culture?

Moving too fast and not being attentive enough to some key issues is perhaps coming back to haunt the company, with some suggesting that its reputation is now broken.

The Cambridge Analytica situation - a scandal related to data protection - has outraged many users of the platform and commanded negative headlines around the world. And this comes off the back of a prolonged period when the company's reputation was under serious pressure already.

For those who don't know, the Cambridge Analytica scandal involved a Cambridge academic harvesting data from Facebook users via a personality quiz on the social network and through his company Global Science Research (GSR) sharing it with Cambridge Analytica who appear to have used the data as part of campaigns that influenced the outcomes of major political elections.

As I have said in this column before, it has become abundantly clear that one of the most interesting stories of this year is going to be how ‘big tech' responds to the crisis it is facing.

The Fangs - Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google - are already under considerable pressure relating to issues that include fake news, extremism, the addictive nature of smartphones and social media, and cyber bullying.

So, the big tech firms have much to do in 2018 to recover their reputations and adjust their position in society, all the more so for Facebook now with the latest scandal.

I am a passionate believer in the positive role of tech in our lives and our society. When I think back even 10 years ago, booking accommodation for a holiday, hailing a taxi, staying in contact with friends and even ordering simple retail items was a completely different ball-game. Today, tech has made these things easier, more productive, and simply better.

I also see examples of tech's positive role every day through our work in areas such as the NHS, housing associations and business. It allows us to achieve things that we never would have thought possible. It has improved our lives unimaginably in so many ways.

But the tech sector – particularly so-called big tech – has a major responsibility to also address the negative side. Companies like Facebook have such huge power, and the latest Cambridge Analytica situation raises many questions. These need to be properly addressed, and Facebook needs to move fast and fix things.

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