Mark Zuckerberg, Who Once Gave Rare Butt Cricket STD To Entire Shopping Mall, Says Fact-Checking Bad

Tech

Mark Zuckerberg helped destroy the country, perhaps even the world, and he won't stand idly by while anyone tries to undo his hard work. Twitter (finally) started fact-checking (by appending a teeny tiny "get the facts" notation) Donald Trump's tweets, which are usually full of lies, slander, and the occasional covfefe. The rival platform's underwhelming action didn't shame Zuckerberg into caring about the veracity of the content on his own hell site. Instead, he jumped on the bandwagon with conservative hacks, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and cried “censorship!" because he apparently dropped out of Harvard before learning what censorship is.

Zuckerberg criticized Twitter's policy during an interview on (of course) Fox News's "The Daily Briefing," which aired today.

ZUCKERBERG: We have a different policy I think than Twitter on this. I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general private companies probably shouldn't be — especially these platform companies — shouldn't be in the position of doing that.

This is all kinds of dumb. Media companies shouldn't enable the spread of disinformation. Their first duty should be to the truth. Facebook discards that principle and dresses up its willful negligence in an emperor's robe of “free expression." Even the term “arbiter of truth" is a way to frame “facts" as just part of some liberal agenda. They're big on moral relativism these days, especially when they discovered how much power and money they could gain through shameless lies.

(Can't see the video? Please click the little bird in the tweet!)

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost a lot of journalists their jobs. It's not that hard to find qualified "fact checkers," which I stress is not some new Orwellian concept. Letters editors at newspapers — remember them? — fact-checked submissions before publication. If a grandmother's complaints about pot holes in her neighborhood was thoroughly vetted, then someone should probably double-check the US president's (lying) claims about voter fraud.


Trump isn't just confused, either. He thrives politically and personally on disinformation. Rush Limbaugh, the country's worst Medal of Freedom recipient, ghoulishly claimed that Trump just doesn't care if what he says is true or not. He just wants to promote negative implications that just skirt the line of defamation.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended putting a factual “warning label" on Trump's tweets, which falsely claimed California Gov. Gavin Newsom "is sending ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are and how they got there."

(Only registered voters receive ballots, but you probably knew that because you're not an idiot.)

DORSEY: This does not make us an “arbiter of truth." Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.

Zuckerberg likes to present Facebook as a “public square," so presumably his ideal scenario is that Newsom could just respond to Trump and clarify that he's not actually committing election fraud. As the saying goes, a lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes. This is even more the case thanks to how quickly content can spread on social media. If Twitter won't delete Trump's account or his most repulsive tweets, anchoring them with fact-checked links can at least give the truth a fighting chance. Unfortunately, our politics are so polarized that people who believe anything Trump says are also less likely to believe Newsom when he denies the accusation.

Facebook helped create this crappy climate. In 2018, a Facebook team revealed to senior executives that the platform was negatively shaping user behavior.

"Our algorithms exploit the human brain's attraction to divisiveness," read a slide from a 2018 presentation. "If left unchecked," it warned, Facebook would feed users "more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform."

In fact, here's what that actually looks like:

A 2016 presentation that names as author a Facebook researcher and sociologist, Monica Lee, found extremist content thriving in more than one-third of large German political groups on the platform. Swamped with racist, conspiracy-minded and pro-Russian content, the groups were disproportionately influenced by a subset of hyperactive users, the presentation notes. Most of them were private or secret.

The high number of extremist groups was concerning, the presentation says. Worse was Facebook's realization that its algorithms were responsible for their growth. The 2016 presentation states that "64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools" and that most of the activity came from the platform's "Groups You Should Join" and "Discover" algorithms: "Our recommendation systems grow the problem."

Your conservative relatives are most likely only going to see content that claims the COVID-19 shutdowns are part of a leftist power grab. They aren't going to see accurate reports from the so-called “fake news." That is by design and it fattens Facebook's bottom line. All the company cares about is engagement so it can sell ads, no matter the societal cost. Facebook leadership mostly ignored the findings from this meeting, and the study that came before it, that arguably was the moment Facebook became the new tobacco industry. It knows what it does is wrong, but the money is so good, it refuses to stop.

Alan Shore on Smoking www.youtube.com

Facebook policy chief Joel Kaplan claimed any effort to improve the rhetoric on the platform was “paternalistic." However, it's not just that Facebook has no policy regarding content. The problem is that Facebook is wildly inconsistent regarding how it applies whatever piddly-ass policies it has. Teaming up with the rightwing Daily Caller to “verify" content is almost as slimy as tobacco companies placing their products in stores at direct eye level of children.

The anti-Trump conservative group the Lincoln Project (featuring Kellyanne Conway's husband, George, on the cowbell) recently had its “Mourning in America" ad buried on Facebook. (Not “censored," as as Wired article claims, because again, that's not how censorship works.)

The reason, explains Facebook spokesperson Andrew Stone, is that the Lincoln Project is not an ad from a campaigning politician, but an outside organization.

Facebook

Zuckerberg is making the rounds today, pondering what is truth, like some human resembling Pontius Pilate. He boasts that Facebook doesn't fact check, yet it does sort of fact check, but with the “occasional" assistance of biased organizations. Facebook is a steaming pile, and the person who benefits the most is Donald Trump.

[Wall Street Journal / CNBC]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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