Shares of Meta Platforms (META -6.79%) took a fall today as multiple news items highlighted challenges the company is facing and seemed to remind investors of the company’s reputational risk.
The most important of those issues today was a new threat from the EU that could restrict targeted ads on the continent. Additionally, the company is facing a new threat from Congress, and it was even chastised by its own oversight board.
Ths stock closed down 6.8% on the news.
EU privacy regulators ruled today that social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram shouldn’t be able to require users to accept targeted ads through its terms of service.
Meta will be able to appeal the decision but could face significant fines if the ruling is upheld. The company just lost some of its targeting ability when Apple implemented its new ad-tracking transparency protocol on Apple’s mobile operating system (iOS) last year, and the EU’s decision could deliver a similar impact to Facebook and Instagram users in Europe on computers and Android devices.
Separately, Meta posted a response to a bill in Congress, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act., which could require social media platforms like Meta to pay publishers for content on its platform. Meta said that it would have to consider removing news content from its feed if Congress passed the bill.
Finally, Facebook’s own oversight board said the company needs to revamp its practice of exempting high-profile celebrities from its content rules. The report is likely to stoke further criticism of Meta for treating users poorly and not being a good steward of personal data.
Of the three issues above, only the EU ruling has the potential to have a direct bottom-line impact on Meta right now, but the bad press is also likely to remind many why Facebook’s brand reputation has soured since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which led many to dismiss the company as toxic.
That Meta’s own oversight board is calling it out seems problematic, and the pushback against Congress and small newspapers is unlikely to be well received.
While Meta has demonstrated its ability to make money even as its reputation has suffered, its image remains a risk, especially in an increasingly competitive social media industry.
Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jeremy Bowman has positions in Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Apple and Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.