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As social media marketing services are more or less taking over the world these days, this is not to say that these companies don’t still face challenges in various countries. Here we’ll expand on several examples of large technology companies and the cultural clashes they are facing.

Germany Needs Privacy

For example, Germans are not big fans of Facebook’s facial recognition features. They strongly oppose the automatic tag suggestions that appear on uploaded photos, saying that this violates people’s abilities to control their own information. They sent a notice to Facebook, threatening a fine of up to €300,000 ($428,940—a small fine for a company Social Media Culture Clashthat’s worth $50 billion) if they did not disable this facial recognition feature. Regardless of the potential fine, however, Facebook does not want to cause the whole EU to turn against it.

Google has also experienced problems with Germany. When Google Maps was about to launch the list of Germany’s top 20 cities, they came under fire for allowing the street view of German houses. Thus, they allowed residents to “opt out” of the street view photo of their house being available—which a surprising 240,000 households took advantage of. So, don’t be surprised if random German houses in your Street View adventure are blurred out—we all need our privacy.

South Korean Objections

On the Eastern front, South Korea is unhappy with Apple for some recent shortcomings in regards to photos taken on the iPhone. In April, customers noticed that every photo that was taken on their iPhone also included the latitude and longitude that the photo was taken. While Apple claims that this measure was simply a move to help your iPhone more quickly and accurately calculate its location when prompted, the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) believes that this practice is an infringement of their location information laws. Even more ridiculous than the Facebook fine in Germany, Koreans plan to fine Google ₩3 million, or $2,830. Of course, don’t forget to note that Apple is currently only $50 billion away from being the world’s most valuable company—a fine like this probably constitutes the bill when the office decides to buy lunch for its employees.

Microsoft and the EU

Social Media Culture ClashFinally, we can’t forget the notorious Microsoft fine from the EU several years ago. The original fine amount was €497 million ($737 million). However, Microsoft continued to fail to comply with the European Commission’s anti-trust ruling in 2004 for charging too much for specific server information. Therefore, the EC tacked on even more to their fine—the final total equaled €1.35 billion, or $2.038 billion—the largest single fine ever for a single company from the EC.

Interestingly enough, Microsoft was tried in the United States in 1998 for abusing monopolization powers. The judge initially declared that Microsoft must be broken up into two separate entities, one for producing software (such as IE) and the other for producing the operating system. Microsoft appealed, and eventually settled to share certain information with third-parties to avoid predatory behavior. Nonetheless, there was an absence of fines worth billions of dollars.

Cultural Fluency

What can we learn from this? Well, the most obvious answer is that cultural differences are oftentimes difficult to avoid. Firms as large as Facebook and Google spend a great deal of money to simply make transitions and market penetrations more effective when they are expanding globally. However, as good as these people are at what they do, there will always be a few nuances or small details that are overlooked. The only way to avoid these is to learn from other companies’ mistakes. And of course, you will become accustomed to the new rules and regulations after entrance into a company.

Jamie Bates
Online Marketing Director