When Companies Lose Control of Their Intangible Assets

This is what it looks like when Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc., lose control of their and our intangible assets…on October 31, 2018, a U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee engaged general counsels representing each, posing questions regarding the circumstances (allegations) how their respective platforms had been used by state sponsored foreign actors, i.e., Russian entities, through replicating bot’s and sponsored ad buys to disseminate distortions – manipulations of news during the 2016-2017 presidential election cycle. https://kpstrat.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=276

Through my lens, as an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist, Google, Twitter, and Facebook, having become the world’s largest and most prolific intangible asset intensive and dependent companies, repeatedly admitted (in their testimony) they had lost – were not fully in control of their respective intangible assets which had propelled each to become globally embedded media platforms for social media and interaction. https://kpstrat.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=6016

The presumptive, but irrelevant responsibility, assumed by Twitter, Google, and Facebook, lie in the misperception for framing the issue in the context of corporate security oversights. In other words, assuming the issue could be addressed – mitigated (reduce each company’s vulnerability to, probability of, and criticality) that the circumstances would repeat in subsequent election cycles if each would undertake – put in place enhanced security (screening, filtering) measures and systems. I just don’t believe doing so would wholly lead to the outcomes the U.S. Senators were publicly advocating and the company general counsels accepted.

Instead, good – effective change will manifest when companies exercise greater and consistent stewardship, oversight, and management of their intangible assets variously linked to intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, mission statements, and their business – revenue generation model’s. This includes how and from whom they generate revenue, value, a sustainable reputation. More specifically, exercising caution and elevating transparency regarding the origins, and motives of future ad buyers and accuracy-truthfulness of sponsored content, and how intelligent machines, ala bots, can proliferate – replicate trolled information in contexts and volumes which are nearing unfathomable.  https://kpstrat.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4822

It’s not just Twitter, Google, YouTube, and Facebook that may be – have lost control of their intangible asset inputs and outputs and how the elicit-solicit either. I suspect these highly automated platforms may not have had good, or perhaps any control of their intangible assets from the outset which exacerbated by multiples as the reliance on automation of their platforms grew exponentially in terms of user identification and advertising.

When a company’s business (revenue) model is (appears to be) rooted in – driven by achieving global scalability, user acceptance, and number of users, it’s reasonable to assume that developing – deploying any structural capital (intangible assets) which could be perceived to impede that business model, may be arbitrarily pared down to an un-or-under-informed minimum. An outcome of near-term perspectives like this is the elevation of risk, especially vulnerability, probability, and criticality. One way this risk manifests, as it did on the morning of October 31st, is answering questions live, before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee with the testimony (Q&A) aired repeatedly and globally in print, TV, and on your own company’s social media platforms.

It’s important to recognize that companies reliant – dependent on highly automated systems for user identification and advertising, presents significant and new forms of challenge to distinguish good – desirable actors and users from bad – undesirable actors. Consider the ramifications of studies referenced by Thomas Rid of Johns Hopkins University, that perhaps as much as 20% of Twitter’s use evolves from automated bots.

This post was developed from a PBS Newshour interview of Thomas Rid, The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Professor of Strategic Studies and Timothy Wu, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, and my review of their respective books published in 2016, Rise of the Machines and The Attention Merchants.

Michael D. Moberly November 1, 2017 St. Louis [email protected] ‘The Business Intangible Asset Blog’ since May 2006 ‘where one’s attention span, intangible assets, and solutions converge’.

Readers are invited to explore other blog posts, papers, and books I have published at https://kpstrat.com/blog


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