A popular meme that has been making the rounds is the 10-year challenge in which people on social media (and primarily Facebook) post side-by-side pictures of themselves, one from a decade ago and a recent photo, to see how they have aged. Some have hypothesized that Facebook started the meme as a sneaky way of feeding data into an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, though the social media giant has outright denied the allegation.
"The 10-year challenge is a user-generated meme that started on its own, without our involvement. It's evidence of the fun people have on Facebook, and that's it," Facebook stated in a Twitter post.
Let's not gloss over the fact that Facebook has a Twitter account, and is fairly active on the competing social media platform. Facebook's comment was in response to an article in Wired that covered the possibility at length. Posting a rebuttal on Twitter shows that Facebook wants to get ahead of this thing and squash any rumors or perception that it is violating its users' privacy.
That has obviously been an issue for Facebook. The company has been caught with its hand in the proverbial cookie jar on multiple occasions, like when it conducted an experiment on around 700,000 unwitting users to see if altering their timelines with specific types of content could alter their moods.
Facebook's claim that it did not start the 10-year challenge and that it went viral on its own should put this specific case to rest, though it speaks to an underlying distrust that now exists. Ask yourself this: would you be surprised if Facebook was behind the meme? Most people probably would not be, and it is not because of paranoia—it's the result of several privacy blunders.
Even if Facebook is telling the truth, the social network would be wise to take a lesson from this and adapt accordingly. Facebook may feel like it's too big to fail at this point, but it's not. Whether users eventually get fed up and leave on their own, another competitor emerges, or if government regulation ruins the party, there are several scenarios in which Facebook could fall.
That doesn't need to happen, of course. Facebook is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with friends and relatives. Nevertheless, at the very least it has a perception problem, and it would be in Facebook's best interest to solve it.