I believe the Facebook hearings will bring profound change for communications professionals in social media. As far as I can tell, Facebook is the tip of the regulatory revolution. The ground that social media stands on is shaking and about to erupt. The battle for market-share is taking a back seat to being regulated at a level that has heretofore been unthinkable. It is time for the industry to grow up and realize how they do business is a matter of national policy. Our government sees Facebook’s behavior as a threat to their constituents, e.g. voters.
Not only are Facebook’s failures to protect users real; they are preventable per our politicians. All our officials have to do to be on the right side of the issue (protect those voters) is to paint the Facebooks of the world as irresponsible and in need of stricter oversight. Tighten the strings, add layers of regulations and never mind the unintended consequences. The direction is clear and Mark Zuckerberg is looking at how to escape from these consequences with as little damage as possible. We have entered a new era of governance and there is no turning back.
The Communications staffs that have grown exponentially to support the growth of their global businesses will need to develop a sophisticated understanding of Public Affairs policy and regulation. Their additional counsel and strategic input demand a new skill set that includes mastering the theatrical nature of positioning their CEOs for public scrutiny, including televised hearings. The stakes are extraordinarily high; never underestimate the power of government to regulate an industry. It is a new game to play and the time to get up to speed is now.”