Thursday, August 06, 2020

How Many Years Should Mark Zuckerberg Serve In Prison? And Who Runs Google?


I hate Facebook's ad department so much that I just stopped dealing with them entirely. Blue America no longer uses them for ads. We switched out on-line ads to Google. I hate them nearly as much, although my experiences with them are mixed. It's entirely random and subjective if they green-light an ad or reject it. A couple of weeks ago Blue America was trying to buy an ad as part of our I.E. campaign for Eva Putzova. They turned it down and didn't tell us why. And, of course, there is no one to speak with. It's arbitrary and chillingly Kafkaesque. Somehow Jacquie found someone to scream at and-- boom-- the ad was running. I wish there was a way around them. I tried, but they turned out to be so lame that no one ever even called back when I told an operator that we have a 6 figure budget for the year and would like to spend it on

I think a good case could be made for throwing Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Fidji Simo, David Fischer, David Wehner and the rest of Facebook's management upper echelon in prison for seriously damaging the country. Not because I don't like Facebook but because they are seriously damaging the country in the pursuit of profits without regard to the impact their poisonous decisions have on society. What am I talking about?

Yesterday I saw a piece by Craig Timber's and Andrew Ba Tran at the Washington Post, Facebook's Fact Checkers Have Ruled Claims In Trump Ads Are False-- But No One Is Telling Facebook's Users. How could it be otherwise? Lying and gaslighting are part of Trump's identity. It's who he is and always has been and always will be. But his ads go up anyway.

All 5 of the fact-checking agencies that Facebook used to assess Trump's new ad found it "false" and "deceptive." Facebook didn't tell their readers though. "That’s because the company specifically exempts politicians from its rules against deception. Ads containing the falsehoods continue to run freely on the platform, without any kind of warning or label."
Enabled by Facebook’s rules, Trump’s reelection campaign has shown versions of the false claim on Facebook at least 22.5 million times, in more than 1,400 ads costing between $350,000 and $553,000, a Washington Post analysis found based on data from Facebook’s Ad Library. The ads , bought by the campaign directly or in a partnership with the Republican National Committee, were targeted at Facebook users mainly in swing states such as Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

They weren’t the only times Trump’s campaign has taken advantage of Facebook’s policy allowing politicians to lie with impunity, something the company does not tolerate from non-political advertisers. Fact-checking organizations that partner with Facebook also have ruled that Trump ads have made untrue claims about Biden’s positions on school choice and health care for immigrants, as well as on the effectiveness of Trump’s response to the coronavirus, yet ads including these claims have been allowed to stay on the platform and carry no warning label, The Post’s review found.

Biden’s campaign has not taken similar advantage of Facebook’s leniency about political claims. Fact checkers working with Facebook have found far fewer misleading statements from him or his campaign, a review of their work since May found. Most concerned misstatements made in the candidate’s public remarks, typically in interviews or campaign events, such as when he said in June that covid-19 had killed 120 million Americans when the correct number was 120,000. No fact checker from Facebook’s network has recently taken issue with a Biden campaign ad that appeared on Facebook.

When Facebook’s fact checkers deem non-political ads false, the company removes them from its platform, though they remain in the publicly available Ad Library for research purposes. In the case of the Trump ads, the only public presentation of the factcheckers’ conclusions has been on their own websites-- where the organizations routinely run all their assessments.

“It’s crazy,” said Claire Wardle, U.S. director of First Draft, an organization dedicated to fighting misinformation that has a partnership with Facebook. “Because Facebook has decided not to actively fact check political ads, you have this perverse situation where these fact-checks of problematic ads sit on the fact-checking websites, but there is no mechanism for their work to impact Facebook or their users.”

...Critics particularly warned that the ability of political advertisers to narrowly target demographic slices undermined transparency and created the opportunity to rapidly and strategically push falsehoods far more easily than in broadcast ads, which typically are seen by everyone in a particular area-- allowing obviously misleading statements to be challenged.

...Biden campaign spokesman Matt Hill said, “Facebook has chosen to sell the Trump campaign the tools to target specific voters with false advertisements… A company that values American democracy would reconsider this indefensible practice.”

Worries about a 2016 repeat

Concern about falsehoods in Facebook advertising stems from the rampant lies, distortions and disinformation that flooded the platform in 2016, including by Russia’s Internet Research Agency, which used rubles to buy ads in which the operatives pretended to be American political activists. U.S. intelligence officials later determined that Russia’s goal was to divide Americans along racial, social, religious and other political fault lines, and to help elect Trump.

But Trump’s routine use of false and misleading claims during his presidency, along with his heavy and sophisticated use of social media, has fueled concern that unchecked disinformation on would be a problem during the 2020 election season.

The Post’s fact-checking team-- which does not work with Facebook but on July 14 ruled Trump’s claims about Biden wanting to “defund” police forces merited “Four Pinocchios,” the worst possible rating of veracity-- has detailed more than 20,000 lies, falsehoods and misleading comments by Trump since he took office, for an average of 12 each day.

Facebook’s network of independent fact checkers has catalogued a similarly robust stream of untruths by Trump, his campaign, cabinet members, Vice President Pence and numerous campaign surrogates on a wide range of subjects. The rate of falsehoods far outpaces those documented from Biden or his campaign.

The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning [right-of-center, corporately-funded] think tank, said it had found nine different Trump ads on Facebook whose central claims against Biden or Democrats generally had been ruled false by fact checkers that were part of the company’s network. Those ads have appeared at least 140 million times on the platform, at a cost of between $2.2 million and $3.7 million. (Facebook’s Ad Library, which is the source of such data, gives ranges, not precise amounts).

“This is something that is not hypothetical. It is real, and it’s going to get a lot worse,” said Adam Conner, vice president for technology at the Center for American Progress. He previously worked on elections and policy issues for Facebook before leaving the company in 2014.

“I did not imagine that these would be tools that harm democracy rather than strengthen it,” Conner said.

Several key members of Facebook’s network began their work before social media was a major vehicle for delivering political falsehoods, but the emergence of Facebook’s operation has provided them with resources to more effectively monitor deception on the platform., a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, started in 2003. It received $324,000 from Facebook in the most recent fiscal year to check facts on the platform, allowing it to add staff to conduct more fact checks. Project director Eugene Kiely said he would like to see its work at least linked below advertisements it has evaluated.

“The policy should be that you provide Facebook users with as much information as you can to make good decisions. That’s why we’re here,” said Kiely. “I don’t see how you can argue against giving Facebook users more information.”

Politifact, part of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, also has had combating political lies at the core of institutional mission since its founding in 2007. Editor-in-Chief Angie Drobnic Holan said that the claims of politicians should get more scrutiny, not less, though she praised Facebook for having a fact-checking system that goes beyond what other platforms do. (She declined to disclose how much Facebook pays Politifact to participate in its fact-checking program.)

“I feel like they’re giving politicians a privilege they don’t give to ordinary people, and why would they do that?” said Holan. “The politician’s exemption, from a fact-checking point of view, doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’re giving a break to power.”
And if anyone figures out who runs Google... that crew belongs in prison too. For now I'll pass on pronouncing judgement on

Total coincidence-- after writing the post above, I saw this: State attorneys general blast Facebook’s civil rights record, blaming social media for rise in hate crimes and discrimination, perhaps a glimmer of hope that Zuckerberg actually will wind up in prison. But they don't put politically-connected billionaires in prison in this country, do they? Elizabeth Dwoskin reported that "Nearly two dozen state attorneys general demanded Facebook do more to stop the spread of disinformation, discrimination and hate in an open letter on Wednesday, the latest volley in a growing campaign targeting the company’s civil rights record. Citing a rise in hate crimes and online harassment, the attorneys general asked Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to step up enforcement of the social media company’s hate speech policies. They also asked the company to allow independent audits of the hateful content on the site and of Facebook’s measures to eliminate it. And they called for the company to improve its responsiveness to victims of hate-filled attacks. Their requests add to a growing chorus of demands by civil rights advocates, advertisers, politicians and others that the company improve its handling of some of the most charged and divisive issues involving free speech and harm in U.S. society. Facebook is facing a boycott of 1,000 advertisers, including Disney and Verizon, over its civil rights record. While the boycott failed to make a dent in the company’s bottom line when the company reported earnings last week, the pressure from the attorneys general is significant because they have the power to sue Facebook if their requests are not met. Democrats from states including New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and California signed the letter."

And then, finally...

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At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the founders really NOT know that "freedom of speech" would degrade to "freedom to lie with impunity" when the people became stupid and irresponsible?

I know they warned that a healthy democracy depended on an informed public (thus, freedom of the press).

They failed to foresee the assimilation of all media by money.
They failed to foresee the people becoming dumber than shit.

note: foresight might have presumed the former would lead to the latter. In America, however, it was reversed... magnifying the degree to which the people became dumber than shit.

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prison for Phuquerberg? Hell no! He deserves a French haircut for what he's done to the world. Just a little off the top, don't you know.

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Good for you Howie it's not worth it going on Facebook Mark is a total fraud.


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