Mark Zuckerberg and Big Brother
Facebook allowed bots from Russia, and fake accounts that originated in Russia to post fake ads to Facebook to try to sway the 2016 election. Zuckerberg, et al were into a head space where free means free and anyone gets to speak on Facebook. And I suppose it is actually possible that he was unaware of just who was speaking and what they were speaking about. Is propaganda-speech from unidentified sources protected by America’s First Amendment? Is free speech absolute or is it really only possible to have relatively-free speech?
Hard to say because now our Supreme Court has ruled that money can be speech and that corporations are people and can weigh in at elections with as much money and influence as they please. Perhaps our government shares some guilt in this Russian interference because they allowed money to flood elections while the sources of the money are protected and do not have to be revealed.
But in this case, the government has Facebook in hot water because the bots and fake accounts did not originate in America but were posted from Russia by Russians to meddle in an American election. Social media, unless posters are carefully vetted, allows elections to be influenced globally, and not just in America, but in any nation. I’m not sure why Mark Zuckerberg is taking all the blame for foreign interference, but his business model, which charges no fees to users relies completely on selling data from users to companies who will pay for the data. I suppose we all knew he was doing this, but if we stopped to think about it, when it was called to our attention, it became clear that it is an invasion of our privacy and it was being done without asking for our stated permissions. Who has our data? We have no idea. Does Mr. Zuckerberg know? Does Russia have our data? China? Everyone?
Zuckerberg’s business model now relies on earnings from selling space on Facebook, selling ads. But because the internet is still basically the Wild West he cannot actually be sure who is buying these ads. The US government is not happy. They threaten him with anti-trust laws.
So now Zuckerberg must find ways to vet Facebook users in order to eliminate anonymous foreign interference and vet US users to make sure they are real citizens. He has had to put himself under the thumb of the government (the Trump government). Given the way social media works he has been given a Herculean task. Almost anyone it seems can hack the internet and steal information (data), block the data of schools and governments for ransom, generate fake accounts. So now the government wants names and addresses. Do you see the Big Brother connection?
I have a website, a blog, where I post opinion articles about politics. Facebook offered to push out an ad to connect readers to my articles. It was useful to help find readers, although finding trolls was far more likely, and it is inexpensive. It did get my posts out to more readers, but the readers did not tend to stay or come back on their own. However, since it was helpful and cheap I continued to use Facebook’s ad services.
I had to prove that I was a real person and not a bot by going through a process of four factor authentication. The last step involved sending a code to my house that I then had to enter on Facebook. But that 4 factor vetting is not enough, apparently. Now if you write about politics you have to register with the government. I do not trust our current government. I think of Trump’s government as constantly trying to create lists of American citizens who might become Trump ‘enemies’. I will simply stop buying ads on Facebook and write in the dark. Big Brother is watching!
This is the text of the note I got on Facebook from Mark Zuckerberg:
In August we announced several updates to ensure greater authenticity and transparency for social issue, electoral, and political ads in the United States. Advertisers can now begin the process of providing more information about their organization and give people insight into who is responsible for the ad before getting their “Paid for by” disclaimer approved. We encourage you to start this process as soon as possible. Beginning mid-October advertisers who have not provided the new required information will have their ads paused until they complete the new disclaimer process.
Advertisers targeting the US with ads about social issues, elections, or politics, now have five options for confirming their organization including three options that prove they are registered with the US government.
- Tax-registered organization
- Federal Election Commission ID number (FEC)
- Government based email and website with similar domains (ending in .gov or .mil)
If they complete one of these options they will receive a ‘Confirmed Organization’ icon that will appear on all their issues, electoral and political ads. We also want to ensure advertisers who do not have those credentials, such as smaller businesses or local politicians, are empowered to run issue, electoral or political ads. These advertisers will have two options and their ads will have an ‘About this ad’ icon in lieu of the ‘Confirmed Organization’ icon:
- Submit a different organization name, along with a US street address, phone number, email and website that matches the email
- Use the Page admin’s name as it appears on their valid government-issued ID. For this option, the advertiser will not be able to use an organization name in disclaimers.
These new indicators, which shows if an ad is run by a ‘Confirmed Organization’ or not, aims to bring transparency directly to people by helping them understand who is paying for the ad. With this layer of transparency, people will be able to see the information Facebook confirmed with one tap on the ‘Confirmed Organization’ or ‘About this Ad’ icons. The information Facebook confirmed will be publicly accessible in the Ad Library for seven years.
Join the Facebook team for a live webinar on Sept. 24 or Oct. 7 at 10 am PT/1 pm ET to walk through the new disclaimer process with Q&A
End of note-
Let the hacking and government surveillance begin…
Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, youtube.com