Facebook is a juggernaut not only in social media but also when it comes to wielding massive political influence. With such power, the responsibility to maintain a balanced political representation is prudent. Facts must surmount propaganda. Information that is vital to better educate the public must be presented clearly and honestly. Unfortunately, that’s not Facebook’s initiative.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal is indicative of Facebook’s true prowess in manipulating politics and elections in almost 70 countries. This includes the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and Brexit. So, who is at the forefront of dictating how the narrative is controlled? Is it Zuckerberg himself or is it co-founder of Palantir and early Facebook investor, Peter Thiel?
Let’s look at the fact that Zuckerberg met President Trump through Thiel—whose company has more government contracts than any other company in the U.S. Thiel seems to hold quite a high position in influencing Facebook’s behaviour and direction, but does Zuckerberg have the final say? After all, he has continued to have meetings with the President to make deals behind closed doors. It’s no wonder Facebook continues to let the President use their platform to spread misleading and dangerous information.
“Mark’s deal with Trump is highly utilitarian. It’s basically about getting free rein and protection from regulation. Trump needs Facebook’s thumb on the scale to win this election.” -Roger McNamee, early Facebook investor turned fierce critic.
Some politicians want to stand in the way of Facebook making money—so Mark Zuckerberg has aligned himself with those who are happy to look the other way when it comes to Facebook’s multiple indiscretions. At the end of the day, Facebook is a business and therefore it has a fiduciary responsibility to its investors to make as much money as possible. The more traffic, the more clicks—the more money.
Facebook often claims to care about human rights, yet they continue to offer authoritarian figures, who have no regard for human life, a platform (for a price). Let’s not forget that we are talking about a company that has admitted it was used to incite violence in Myanmar—where an estimated 24,000 Rohingya people were murdered. Unfortunately for the free world, authoritarian figures also have a lot of money to spread misinformation, so freedom seekers and dictators are essentially engaged in an advertising war for whose social media megaphone sounds the loudest. In the meantime, Zuckerberg gets to play the fiddle atop his mountain of money while watching the world burn.
Facebook may try and paint a pretty picture by pronouncing their advocacy of human rights, free speech, and equality—but their actions (past and present) reveal a dramatically different picture.
Human rights should be a priority for any social media platform—particularly that of their workforce and that of their users. Recently, Facebook paid $52 million in a settlement to 11,250 content moderators who developed PTSD on the job—each was paid a minimum of $1,000 and will only be eligible for additional compensation with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions. So, what kind of conditions were these moderators working in? Well, sitting in a cubicle farm of a warehouse and watching hideous video content posted by some of the sickest, most deplorable people on the planet for their entire workday will do some serious damage to one’s mind. If Facebook can’t uphold basic workplace principles for the people that keep their machine running—is it surprising that they don’t care about human rights on a global scale?
Facebook needs to be held accountable for all their indiscretions—but how does that happen when politicians and platform executives are scratching each other’s backs? Regardless of who wins the election tonight, we can’t ignore the fact that Facebook has been peddling misinformation and influencing politics for years. The only hope we have right now is to cease using this corrupt platform. The fewer people who use it, the less money that goes into Facebook’s pockets—and we all know there is nothing is more effective than a swift, hard kick to a billionaire’s bank account.