How the Head of Facebook’s App Is Trying to Regain Users’ Trust

"We used to be the culture of 'move fast and break things,' and clearly that's not working for us anymore," Fidji Simo said at Marie Claire's Power Trip.

Summer 2018 TCA Press Tour - Day 1
Frederick M. BrownGetty Images

It was an all-star cast at the "The Power of Community" panel, a day-two session at the 2019 Power Trip—an annual Marie Claire conference dedicated to bringing together influential women for conversation and connections. Joining Fidji Simo, who heads up the Facebook app, was moderator Colleen McKeegan, senior editor at Marie Claire, along with Stephanie Hallford, VP and general manager of business client platforms at Intel, and Kelli Hodges, director of product marketing at Dell's commercial business unit.

Asked by McKeegan about Facebook's "fake news" epidemic that has dominated headlines since the 2016 election, Simo was honest: "There's really no doubt that in the last couple of years, we have eroded trust with our customers." Admitting that Facebook "hadn't anticipated" the political interference it saw in 2016, Simo explained: "We think we are in a much, much better place than 2016...[but] this is a type of war that never ends."

Simo was equally frank about the role she plays in the behemoth that is Facebook. "The cultural change that I have to drive into the organization—because everyone knows we used to be the culture of 'move fast and break things,' and clearly that's not working for us anymore—so the biggest change is slowing down, making sure that we really understand the risks, being much more proactive in anticipating them."

"When we look at how to build products, we need to take a fundamentally different approach than we used to take a couple of years ago," Simo added.

Hallford, of Intel, agreed with Simo that it's essential for technology giants to attack head-on what she termed the "very concerted international cybersecurity crisis" facing the U.S. "At Intel, we've also changed [our] mentality to a very proactive approach," she said to Simo, citing Intel's "bug bounty" program, among other changes. "We're hugely active in the security area. It's our number one focus. We've had to do a lot of cultural and actual changes to meet the new reality."

Hodges, meanwhile, spoke to the consumer approach. "I really encourage you to really start thinking about—everything in the cloud...it's out there. Knowing that you're partnering with companies that spend their time to be proactive. We do our best. Things are going to happen, but we have to make sure that we have that protection. That we're in a private cloud. That we can protect your data." Addressing the audience, Hodges continued: "When you go and get on the airplane...did you ever think about everyone can see your screen? I don't want to scare you, but you need to think about those things. It's our role as your partner to ensure that we're bringing things to the devices that take away—like, don't try to do it on your own. Let us help you."

Joked McKeegan: "I feel like this is very fitting for Halloween. Very scary."

Follow along with us at Marie Claire's Power Trip here, and via @marieclairemag on Instagram.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From The Power Trip