When Facebook became a public company its childish founder exhorted his employees to “move fast and break things” – a teen-hacker’s trope. What didn’t occur to Zuckerberg is that liberal democracy was one of the things they’d break.
Revelations about the harvesting of users’ data show that Zuckerberg’s all-powerful company has no sense of social – let alone political – responsibility. As the Guardian notes in a damning series of articles (I’m borrowing from them here) including “How Facebook’s destructive ethos imperils democracy,” Zuckerberg has become an agent of instability, division and abusive exploitation of Facebook users (or should I say, Facebook addicts).
Our revelations… show that by late 2015 Facebook had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale but failed to take firm measures to deal with the consequences or to notify the affected users of what had happened… The revelations in our lead story today are shocking not just because they reveal the extent to which Facebook’s advertising system was exploited for political purposes in the 2016 election, but also because they demonstrate the company’s inability to comprehend the responsibilities that accompany its newfound power.
Facebook still poses as a tech company. It is not. Facebook is a ruthless advertising corporation that happens to use digital technology in order to conduct its core exploitative business.
This is all Facebook actually is about: collecting the personal information and data trails left by its 2 billion users to construct detailed profiles to sell to advertisers in order to foist precisely calibrated advertisements on tech addicts groomed to be susceptible.
Facebook’s machine for delivering commercial messages was used for delivering far right targeted political lies to voters. The UK Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election are just some examples of Facebook-enabled outright lies masquerading as political information.
A crass data analytics firm was even able to harvest the Facebook profiles of about a third of all US Facebook user/addicts, which were then used to construct psychological models of those individuals for Trump’s campaign purposes.
As the Washington Post reports in “Trump campaign consultant took data about millions of users without their knowledge”
Facebook’s [just suspended] of Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that played a key role in President Trump’s 2016 campaign… A Cambridge University professor working for Cambridge Analytica in 2014 created an app, called Thisisyourdigitallife, that offered personality predictions and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.”… The professor, a Russian American named Aleksandr Kogan, used the app to gain access to demographic information — including the names of users, their “likes,” friend lists, and other data. Once obtained by Cambridge Analytica, political campaigns could use those profiles to target users with highly tailored messages, ads or fundraising requests.
Facebook said 270,000 people downloaded the app. But people familiar with how such systems work — including a former Cambridge Analytica employee — said the app would have given Cambridge access to information on the friends of each of those people, a number that almost certainly reached into the tens of millions….
Despite Facebook’s concerns in 2015, the social network continued to work with Cambridge Analytica. During the presidential election, Facebook employees assisting Donald Trump’s digital operation worked in the same office as Cambridge Analytica workers, according to a video by the BBC. One former Cambridge employee, Joseph Chancellor, continues to work at Facebook as a user-experience researcher, according to Facebook’s public website.
The information Facebook holds on its users – at least 98 data points per user is revealing – includes preferences, habits, sexuality, politics, hopes and fears. Zuckerberg has sold this information for profit. He will again.
Casual indifference to the unintended consequences of digital technology is par for the Silicon Valley course – where the mantra of “creative destruction” has the status of religious dogma. This “dogma” also absolves true believers in their right to enjoy unlimited greed and avoid personal (let alone legal) responsibility. True believers excuse themselves as if they serve some higher cause rather than just indulging their grubby exploitation of others.
Thus Putin/Trump and authoritarians everywhere have in Zuckerberg a perfect ally and global enabler. Brexit lies, Trump lies, Putin lies, misogynist lies, and racist lies were and are still enabled by Zuckerberg for profit. These lies are warping more and more people’s minds.
Yet when suspicions about the exploitation of Facebook’s systems by political bad actors (including Russian agencies) first surfaced, the reaction of Mark Zuckerberg, was one of hurt denial that his lovely idealistic (highly profitable) creation could have such nasty consequences.
Facebook represents a new kind of low: corporate power over the human mind itself, the dimensions of which are only now becoming faintly apparent. The automated machine Facebook built with the capacity to target individuals, to raise anxiety and reinforce prejudices, suppress voter turnout, amplify partisanship is one hundred percent destructive. It is cut from the same morally deadening fabric that groups like the NRA, ISIS and KKK are cut from. Like these terror organizations Facebook’s power comes from the fomenting of fear and misinformation amplified.
Zuckerberg has been slowly forced to admit some of the implications of the monster that he and his employees have created. But overall Facebook is still in denial. Facebook just can’t admit it is F—–g up the human race for no reason but profit.
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I posted this before but it bears repeating: Get your loved ones off Facebook. http://www.salimvirani.com/facebook/ Great food for thought. Enjoy the article. Cheers.
Not to mention the fact that Facebook is wholesale infiltrated/controlled by US intelligence agencies. I hope no one thinks for a split second that the NSA and the CIA don’t have their grimy mitts in it up to the elbow. It needs regulation? Who’s gonna regulate it? It’s a monster of biblical proportions just like Google. Google is largely the gatekeeper of all information. Facebook is like a drug for many people seeking validation. Those ‘likes’ light up brain chemistry and just like the tobacco companies the fact of it’s addictive nature is not lost on any of the concerned parties. The number one need of most humans is to be liked and accepted by others. This is paramount to human survival as there is safety in numbers. I agree that Facebook is out of line with their practices but good luck convincing most people to drop it or of it ever being stopped. Maybe one thing would halt it. That one thing being another Carrington Event.
Being of a naturally suspicious nature, I’ve protected myself online for years. I have ALWAYS understood the potential for being a target of the unscrupulous
I delete EVERY SINGLE AD that shows up on my Fb page. Many appear to be causes that would interest me if they were legitimate, but especially since learning last year of the acts of Cambridge Analytica–which is connected to Russia and to Bannon, and to the Trump campaign—I understood clearly that Fb was illicitly colluding with foreign attacks on the US government, which IS The People of the USA.
I reject every ad Fb places on my feed.
I block every piece of hate speech that shows up and if it is violent I report it. Some of the most violent, Fb has banned, but Fb is fully complicit in publishing hate speech.
I very rarely accept friends of friends who ask to join my friend list. I have accepted 2 of these only after first contacting a trusted friend to see whether the request is from anyone they know.
I never respond to a message request.
There are many reliable ways to protect yourself even as Fb is aggressively trying to compromise you, just as there are many ways to avoid becoming the victim of these predators:
Don’t click on posts from any unknown website.
If you go to a page that is taking a really long time to load, get off it immediately—all that time is telling you that they are scanning your information, keeping you on the hook for some tidbit you’re interested in while they steal your stuff.
And, as an offshoot of the Cambridge Analytic/Russian efforts to attack information and spread fake news, I never respond to trolls–they are likely paid to troll and coached in the most hateful rhetoric available which is designed to push buttons and make you want to hit back; and if they are not paid trolls, gratuitous insults bring nothing to a discussion and, in fact, are made by people too ignorant to even make a sensible response–why would I care what they say? I certainly don’t think they have enough intelligence to make a judgement about my person or my comments.
Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg. I hate it, but keep a page for my business because my customers ask for it. Otherwise, I would avoid it. Near my business, I recently witnessed a famous company do a charity drive by giving away candy in exchange for a cell number. Over 70,000 people responded in a two week period. I just shook my head at all these grinning fools walking away munching on their “free” candy. Now this company can track these people’s movements through their cellphones. They sold their privacy for a bag of candy. Companies these days want a cell phone number because more folks will pay attention to a text message versus an email that may get lost in the spam folder. People need to realize just how much private information we are giving up on social media.
I’m with you about trolls. Groups like Cambridge and others have been exploiting people for years through trolls. And all trolls have the same MO: gratuitous insults simply to get a reaction. Many don’t even pretend they want a civil discussion. They are so obvious about their real motivations. Like you, I couldn’t care less about what some trolls may think about anything much less responding to anything they may post. All the best. Cheers.
Frank is a great guy…
If you are traveling through Wisconsin you must stop in..
The heart of Eddy Munster territory he he.
Meet some of my people
Why one must study ones enemy as they have come out into the open against us..
The war has come home as it always does
as I say this about America and her longest war in Afghanistan
and our 22 men a day taking their own lives
as I would say quite the domestic enemy it pains me to say
To are dear gdd
Only 50 plus of our best intelligence folk from our dear Federal Family?
Thought there would be many more
Takes courage to run in an American election as our domestic enemies shall rip you to shreds
As courage says let’s lead the battle charge
He said count the cost
Well done my dear American vet
So – as a 230 year old constitutional framework undergoes slow-motion collapse, you recommend a military/intelligence community takeover of Democrat Party operations. You realize that it doesn’t bode well for the future.
Already, dissent originating from neither corporate backed party is credited to foreign interference, and labeled a domestic danger thereby putting forth the case for criminalizing dissent. By opting to support THIS campaign, you demonstrate that your sponsored ‘CIAocrat Party’ represents ZERO progressive content to the US citizenry.
Courage is standing before this bipartisan duopoly behemoth and denouncing your campaigns/elections spectacle for the fraud they are, knowing that the state is prepared to turn guns on the population for refusing to believe as it’s told.
If people want a reactionary program, they can support the GOP. But rather than run a progressive campaign, the ‘CIAocrat’ runs critiques the GOP from the political right. The absence of any working class platform turns millions away from the voting stations.
So be it!
A blessed Lenten walk with Christ!