22 August 2018

Facebook's Evolving Stance on Political Speech

Officials responsible for China’s tech policy have been willing to entertain the idea of Facebook’s operating in the country. It would legitimize China’s strict style of internet governance, and if done according to official standards, would enable easy tracking of political opinions deemed problematic
As long as the left maintains supremacy online, it is a bastion of free speech; however, just a week after the 2016 elections, something needed to be done about fake news. If we take a quick look at the growing role of Facebook in politics, the first glimpse of Facebook's power was the 2008 elections. From 2008 on this became known as the Facebook election with article after article marveling at Obama's success connecting with young voters. And later, utilizing the vast store of information to push ads, and influence conversation. The following format will list the year, topic, associated article link, my comments and quotes from the article.
2008 Barack Obama and the Facebook Election - US News https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2008/11/19/barack-obama-and-the-facebook-election
This election was the first in which all candidates—presidential and congressional—attempted to connect directly with American voters via online social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. It has even been called the "Facebook election." It is no coincidence that one of Obama's key strategists was 24-year-old Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder. It was Hughes who masterminded the Obama campaign's highly effective Web blitzkrieg—everything from social networking sites to podcasting and mobile messaging. There are no barriers to entry on sites like Facebook and YouTube. Power is diffused because everybody can participate.
Yes, everyone can participate, meaning, there is no need to manage or control this platform because it is freely open to all. Having a Facebook co-founder, and current Facebook leadership supporting your campaign couldn't have influenced what people saw or did not see during the 2008 campaign. Although at the time and again in 2012, remember an extreme amount of ad coverage for Obama on Facebook and next to none for any other presidential candidate. Then again, the right did not have a major presence on the platform until 2016.
Facebook 2012 Friended: How the Obama Campaign Connected with Young Voters: http://swampland.time.com/2012/11/20/friended-how-the-obama-campaign-connected-with-young-voters/ In 2012, the use of Facebook, and potential voters Facebook friends of friends was seen as a great, inexpensive, and quick last minute way to get out the:
In the final weeks before Election Day, a scary statistic emerged from the databases at Barack Obama’s Chicago headquarters: half the campaign’s targeted swing-state voters under age 29 had no listed phone number. They lived in the cellular shadows, effectively immune to traditional get-out-the-vote efforts. For a campaign dependent on a big youth turnout, this could have been a crisis. But the Obama team had a solution in place: a Facebook application that will transform the way campaigns are conducted in the future. For supporters, the app appeared to be just another way to digitally connect to the campaign.
2016 How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/04/how-facebook-could-tilt-the-2016-election-donald-trump/478764/ This is a very disturbing article, because it highlights how Facebook could influencing the election and details how difficult it would be for anyone to catch.

A recent study found that someone was 0.39 percent more likely to vote if they were told by Facebook that their friends had voted. Because of the social ripple effects of this, they concluded that more than 340,000 additional votes were cast in that midterm election because of the “I Voted!” button.If Facebook’s effects on voter turnout are as large as this research suggests, then Facebook could easily skew the 2016 election. By selectively presenting the “I Voted!” button to some voters, for instance, it could juice turnout among reliably Democratic demographics without increasing it among their Republican counterparts.
In this same article, Michael Nunez, a Gizmodo editor offers a step by step guide on how Facebook could silence conservative voices.
The world’s largest social network says it won’t avert a Trump presidency—but could it? In its story on the survey question, Gizmodo hypothesizes one way that the company could step in. By gradually wiping pro-Trump stories from its feed, Facebook could suffocate a campaign that has run on free media attention.Nunez goes on to state that not only would Facebook not have to disclose it actions, and, “would be protected by the First Amendment,”.
Keep in mind this article appears in April of 2016 at a time in which it was not clear if Hilary would win the DNC nominations. Granted it was before the DNC email leak in which we learn the entire primary process was rigged for a Hilary win, but it is interested to see how Facebook has followed these recommendations. Remember, It makes sense as a scenario, and it would be hard to track unless Facebook tells us they are doing it. 2016 Post Election Facebook, in Cross Hairs After Election, Is Said to Question Its Influence https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/technology/facebook-is-said-to-question-its-influence-in-election.html Its just after the 2016 election, and the finger pointing has begun. Remember the above article outline how Facebook should have been able to prevent this from happening. Nothing has changed since 2008 other than the fact that Donald Trump won the presidency. The only difference is successful in winning the Social battle on Twitter and Facebook. In the 8 years of social medias influence on presidential elections this was a first; a conservative candid managed to get the upper hand on Twitter and Facebook. Effectively bypassing a biased media filter and talking directly to the people. Because Donald Trump was successful, apparently something needs to be done. The odd thing about the article is its insistence of the claim of Fake News considering that Mark Zuckerberg claimed that:
“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”
99% accuracy is better than CNN, (Left leaning PolitiFact rated CNN political commentates to be accurate 80% of the time. This is with an assessment skewed in their favor and was highest among all cable news channels. So, a 99% accuracy in news and information presented on Facebook is better than cable news. So, why do we need t do anything about the way news and information is collected and shared?
2016 Two Weeks after the election Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/technology/facebook-censorship-tool-china.html Great timing considering this is just after the 2016 election. Facebook has admitted to shadow banning conservatives. You simply turn off their influence. Funny that the New York times printed this on November 22nd 2016 yeah Alex Jones part about the very same thing it was called Fake News. The program as outlined:
The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.

Well, China likes the idea of Facebook giving global legitimacy to their internet policy, and allow the government to easily track political speech, and subsequently do something about it. According to the article, this system is live, and can be seen/controlled by Facebook programmers, it just needs to be turned on.
It may seem odd that the New York times would print such an article. I have a feeling that this article was waiting in the wings long before the 2016 election. If Hillary wins, the revelation that Facebook can influence the election and silence the voices of conservatives could cause problems. This article has the feeling of a CYA for the New York times. Yeah, we told everyone about this issue, now let's quickly move on to Russian collusion. Facebook 2018 Months before the Mid-Term Elections Facebook is judging how trustworthy you are: What you need to know https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2018/08/21/facebook-trust-reputation-score/1052839002/ Although accuracy of information posted and shared on Facebook is 19 percent better than the higher than the heist rated news channel, the social media company is elected to do something to halt the success of conservative and libertarian voices. In the referenced USA Today article:
Facebook has started evaluating the trustworthiness of its users by assigning them with reputation scores from zero to one when they report news articles as being false.Why? The idea is to root out people who routinely make false claims about news articles. This is a new weapon Facebook is using in the online information wars to thwart Facebook users who band together to flag a piece of content or a news publisher they disagree with to reduce the visibility of that content or publisher, Facebook says. It's part of a broader effort by the social media giant to go after malicious actors. "The Washington Post" first reported on the trust scores.
So, after looking at 10 years of Facebook in politics, there is no issue with users or the information users share. This is just an attempt to silence conservative voices, but you knew that. The scary part is the level involvement of tech companies in our every day life. Just think of the possibilities. Based on your social accuracy score, you may or may not be eligible for employment, a loan, to shop or even travel. From Revelations, to all manner of science fiction novels and shows, this has been a vision of our future. Please be sure to post links to any similar articles below.


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