In the face of intensive public, political and regulatory pressure concerning its business practices, Facebook has hired its first chief compliance officer, Henry Moniz.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Moniz will report into Facebook’s general counsel, Jennifer Newstead, and to a board committee overseeing audit and risk. A Facebook spokesperson said that Moniz will work toward enhancing the social media company’s global compliance and risk management program.
Moniz was a long-serving senior vice president, chief compliance officer, chief audit executive and global head of strategic business practices at Viacom, former partner at prestigious law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP and previously served as an assistant United States attorney.
Moniz has his work cut out for him. He may fast become one of the most important, high-profile executives at the social media giant. Facebook is battling against an onslaught of allegations, lawsuits and investigations. The future of the company is at stake, as both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and a large group of state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook alleging violations of antitrust law. They accuse Facebook of asserting its dominance to destroy up-and-coming rivals, copying their features or pressuring them into being acquired.
Facebook is also currently under fire from a number of governments around the world. Its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has been dragged before Congress on multiple occasions.
There are a litany of the criticisms that need addressing. Many people claim Facebook should be more aggressive in defusing incendiary posts, hate speech and conspiracy theories. Some say that groups and posts on the platform led to radicalization and helped contribute to the attack on the Capitol Building.
On the other side of the equation, there’s concern that Facebook’s decision to stop recommending political groups to its users will hurt startup organizations that need social media to galvanize activities and plead their agendas.
The social media platform is facing a grave risk. Changes to Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 pose an existential threat to Facebook’s business model. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature will prompt users with the choice to opt-out of being tracked across apps. Although Facebook does not directly sell user data, as Zuckerberg has made clear before Congress, it does make money from it. The social media company “tracks the websites, apps and even real-life stores that users visit in order to target highly-tailored ads to them.”
Facebook seems stuck in an endless quagmire of privacy scandals. Last Thursday, an update to WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app, turned into a public relations nightmare. People misconstrued a privacy update and believed that Facebook would have the right and ability to read their personal messages.
Zuckerberg acknowledged that employee morale has suffered as a result of these and other matters. All too familiar with public and lawmaker backlash, Zuckerberg said that scrutiny “comes with the territory.”