Social Media’s Year of Falling From Grace

Silicon Valley has enjoyed years of popularity and growing markets.

But 2018 has been rocky for the industry.

Data breaches, controversies over offensive speech and misinformation — as well as reports of foreign operatives’ use of their services — have left many people skeptical about the benefits of social media, experts say.

Worries about social media in Congress meant tech executives had to testify before committees several times this year.

“2018 has been a challenging year for tech companies and consumers alike,” said Pantas Sutardja, chief executive of LatticeWork Inc., a data storage firm. “Company CEOs being called to Congress for hearings and promising profusely to fix the problems of data breach but still cannot do it.”

Facebook drew the most scrutiny. The social networking giant endured criticism after revelations that its lax oversight allowed a political consulting firm to exploit millions of its users’ data.

In the spring, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, went on what was dubbed “an apology tour” to tell users that the company would do a better job of protecting their data.

The California firm faced other problems when data breaches at the site compromised user information. Other sharp criticism hit Facebook when false reports on its site sparked violence in places like Myanmar and Sri Lanka.