Facebook just published its annual Year in Review, a look back at the biggest moments for the social network in 2018. And, well, they appear to be suffering from a mild case of amnesia.
The list, released Thursday, includes a rundown of feel-good moments such as International Women’s Day when “women and men around the world discussed a wide range of topics, issues, and causes related to women.” There was the “much-anticipated nuptials between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle” that “connected 42 million people on Facebook.” And “people around the world shared millions of posts on Facebook to memorialize the global impact and work of” people like Stephen Hawking, Anthony Bourdain, Aretha Franklin, and Burt Reynolds.
But for some reason, Facebook forgot to mention some moments when the social network itself was the main topic of discussion.
We’ve decided to help jog their memory with our own Facebook Year in Review — and well, it’s been a hell of a year for Mark Zuckerberg and company:
January 22: Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s civic engagement product manager, kicks off 2018 with a stark reminder that even Facebook doesn’t believe Facebook is good for democracy: “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can‘t.”
February 2018: A Belgian court tells Facebook to stop tracking people across the entire internet, ordering the company to delete all data it collected illegally from Belgians. Facebook has appealed the decision.
March 2018: The Cambridge Analytica scandal breaks, kicking off a crisis that's still reverberating through the company. Multiple investigations by IS and European regulators have been opened after it was revealed that the U.K.-based analytics firm had acquired and used personal data about Facebook users from an external researcher who had told Facebook he was collecting it for academic purposes. The company worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in the U.S., the Leave.EU campaign in the U.K., and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s controversial re-election campaign in Kenya.
March 25: Zuckerberg takes out full-page ads in several newspapers to say he’s “sorry we didn't do more” about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
March 2018: A U.N. report into violence perpetrated against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar slams Facebook for its failure to stop the spread of hate speech, with one investigator saying that the social network had “turned into a beast” and helped facilitate ethnic cleansing in the country.
April 10: Zuckerberg travels to Washington to answer questions from the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees. He reveals Facebook didn’t disclose the Cambridge Analytica problem to the FTC in 2015 because they “considered it a closed case.” Zuckerberg also reveals he doesn’t think Facebook is a monopoly — though he struggles to name a true competitor.
April 10: On the same day that Zuckerberg fields questions from the Senate, it emerged that his company had labeled conservative bloggers Diamond and Silk as “unsafe” content. The designation leads to a backlash from conservative lawmakers claiming the Silicon Valley company had a liberal bias. The debate still rages today — despite evidence that, if anything, Facebook tends to favor conservative sources.
May 10: The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee release all 3,519 Russian-sponsored Facebook ads used to troll the 2016 U.S. election, laying bare the extent to which Facebook was weaponized to influence the election outcome.
May 15: Reports emerge that the Justice Department and the FBI are both investigating Facebook over its handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. These follow probes by U.K. and EU regulators. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are also investigating the Silicon Valley giant.
May 22: A report from the Counter Extremism Project details how an active and close-knit Facebook group of ISIS-supporting Americans regularly discussed terrorism-related topics on Facebook, using the company's Live video feature to hold meetings.
May 25: Europe’s strict new privacy law, GDPR, comes into effect. While Facebook said it was ready to meet the new standards, its users had other ideas. One million European users abandoned the platform in the month after GDPR’s introduction.
May 25: Despite promises to protect the vote in Ireland's historic abortion referendum, Facebook struggles to guard against foreign groups illegally buying ads and attempting to meddle in the election. Instead, Facebook users in Ireland are greeted with anonymous pages posting graphic images of fetuses, and ads featuring demonstrably fake medical evidence purchased from untraceable buyers.
July 5: Facebook flags part of the Declaration of Independence as hate speech.
July 11: Buried in its 748-page response to Senate questions is a revelation that Facebook gave a Russian company with close ties to the Kremlin extended access to collect data from users of the social network without their permission — and thanks to the Kremlin’s surveillance laws, that means intelligence agencies like the FSB also had access to that data.
July 17: Mob lynchings fueled by fearmongering rumors on the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging app surge across India, sparking hysteria and violence, baffling police, and leaving a trail of at least 18 people killed, with dozens more seriously injured.
July 26: In the space of a few hours, Facebook sees $120 billion wiped off the company’s value.
August 31: A Reuters investigation finds that despite Facebook’s claims to be doing more to combat the problem in Myanmar, the platform continues to be abused by the country’s military.
September 28: Facebook announces it’s been hacked and data from 50 million users was compromised, but it was OK, because the hackers only accessed basic account information. Two weeks later, however, things look much worse after the company announces the hackers had actually gained access to a treasure trove of highly personal data, including who or what users were searching for on the platform, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, and the device types used to access Facebook.
October 5: Zuckerberg is forced to confront irate employees who are incensed that the company’s head of global public policy, Joel Kaplan, is seated alongside the family of Brett Kavanaugh during his explosive Senate confirmation hearing.
October 30: VICE News poses as 100 senators to buy political ads on Facebook ahead of the midterms, and all 100 are accepted — exposing the limitations of Facebook’s political ad transparency policy.
November 14: A bombshell New York Times report reveals that Facebook had hired a GOP-linked PR company called Definers to spread malicious stories about Facebook’s critics, including liberal billionaire donor George Soros.
November 20: A 16-year-old girl in Sudan is sold off for marriage to the highest bidder on Facebook, raising the concern that the platform has become a “latter-day slave market.”
December 4: The constant stream of negative stories about Facebook starts to chip away at staff morale. CNBC reports that employees have been reaching out to former colleagues about working elsewhere. Meanwhile the company’s anonymous internal message board — known as Blind — reveals that employees have taken to using burner phones to avoid their communications being monitored.
December 5: The U.K. Parliament follows through on its promise to publish sensitive internal Facebook emails that reveal the company’s laser focus on growth at all costs, including considering selling user data and aggressively stifling apps from competitors.
Cover image: Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a speech at the VivaTech (Viva Technology) show in Paris, on May 24, 2018. (Sipa via AP Images).