Mark Dice om Facebook

Diverse — Drokles on April 26, 2018 at 6:36 am

Jeg har skrevet kapitlet om Facebook af, fra den konservative Youtube kommentator Mark Dice seneste bog The True Story of Fake News

Facebook slowly morphed from a website people could use to look up old friends from high school or college and share photos with family members, to a place where most people now get much of their news and keep up with current events. At one time Facebook only showed users what their ‘friends’ was posting, but that changed when they added the trending module - and with this simple little box they harnessed the power to introduce thei one billion user to news stories that their friends hadn’t posted - stories the company feels users should know about, and overnight Facebook transformed from just a social networking site to a news company.

With this change, combined with the algorithms which filter out certain content people post by limiting its distribution, Facebook has become a powerfull gatekeeper that can decide which stories will go viral, and which ones will remain virtually unknown. Facebook also poses a danger to free speech by policing and censoring what people post, and if something is deemed ‘too politically incorrect’, then posts are automatically deleted users may have their accounts completely shut down.

Most news websites now rely on Facebook for the majority of their traffic from users posting links to their articles. An internet analytics firm showed that Facebook was responsible for driving 43% of web traffic to over 400 major sites in 2016.

According to their study, in 2014 Facebook was responsible for 20% of all traffic to news sites, and in just two years that figure more than doubled as people became accustomed to scrolling through their Facebook feeds to see what articles their friends had posted and because they where now ‘following’ news websites on Facebook instead of bookmarking the websites in their internet browser and visiting them directly.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said one of his goals is, “To build the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world.” Facebook even began hosting articles from major publishers so users who clicked on a link wouldn’t leave the Facebook ecosystem and could now view the content within Facebook’s app.

The company wants to be the primary hub of the internet, bypassing search engines and web browser altogether. For those who where using the internet of the 1990s and early 2000s, we recall most companies encouraging people to visiting their websites at the end of their commercials, but those calls to action have been replaced by now encouraging people to follow them on Facebook instead, making Mark Zuckerberg one of the most powerful (and unnecessary) middlemen in the history of the internet.

As the 2016 election approached, many media analysts and tech bloggers began to realize that with so many people relying on Facebook as their primary news aggregator, that the site could leverage their power hoping to influence the election. New York Magazine published an article wich asked, “Could Facebook help prevent Donald Trump?”, and went on to say Not through lobbying or donations or political action committees, but simply by exploiting the enormous reach and power of its core products? Could Facebook, a private coorperation with over a billion active users, swing an election just by adjusting its News Feed?”

Paul Brewer, a communications professor at the University of Delaware, said “Facebook would, like any campaign, want to encourage turnout a,ong the supporters of its preferred candidate, pursuade the small number of genuinely uncommitted likely voters, and target apathetic voters who could be convinced to get out to the polls.”

Josh Wright, the executive director of a behavioral science lab also admitted, “There’s lots of opportunity, I think, to manipulate based on what they know about people.” Whrigt pointed out how the site could fill people’s news feeds with photos or stories showing a particular candidate engaged in activities that Facebook knows they like in order to use “in-group psychology” to get people to indentify with a candidate who shares some of their interests.We tend to judge someon by what other people we like are saying about them, and so Facebook could highlight statements made by celebrities that people follow, or even our own friends, about a candidate in order to influence our opinion of that person. If you think Facebook wouldn’t engage in this kind of personalized high-tech manipulation, you would be wrong, because they already have.

A secret study Facebook conducted during the 2010 midterm elections, with help from researchers at the University of California, San Diego, investigated what’s called social contagion wich is how behavior or emotions are copied by others. Facebook included over 60 million of their users in an experiment and found that they could influence peopleto actually get out and vote by showing people that their friends had voted, which then influenced others as well. “Our study suggest that social influence may be the best way to increase voter turnout,” said James Fowler, a UCSD political science professor who conducted the study.”Just as importantly, that what happens online matters a lot in the ‘real world’.” Their experiment increased voter turnout by 340.000 people.

Facebook obviously have a political agenda. They’ve hosted af Q & A for Barak Obama, they hung a huge BLack Lives Matter banner at their headquarters, Mark Zuckerberg have been very outspoken about his support for illegal immigration, gay marriage, and other liberal causes, The company conducts internal polls of employees where they submit questions and vote on them in hopes of getting Zuckerberg to answer, and one poll in march of 2016 that a bunch of employees asked if the company should help prevent Donald Trump from winning the election.

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh told Gizmodo, “Facebook can promote or block any material that it wants. Facebook has the same First Amendment right as The New York Times. They can completely block Trump if they want. They can block him or promote him.”Technically the First Amendment only prevents the U.S. government from supressing someone’s speech, not a coorperation.

Gizmodo’s report on the political bias of Facebook pointed out, “Most people don’t see Facebook as a media company - an outlet designed to inform us. It doesn’t look like a newspaper, magazine og news website. But if Facebook decides to tamper with its algorithm - altering what we see - it’s akin to an editor deciding what to run big with on the front page, or what to take a stand on.”

Wether they are legally allowed to do such a thing is one issue, wether such favoritism and censorship is deceptive and immoral is another.

“If Facebook decided to,” professor Volokh says, “it could gradually remove any pro-Trump stories or media off its site - devastating for a campaign that runs on memes and publicity. Facebook wouldn’t have to disclose it was doing this, and would be protected by the First Amendment.”

“If Facebook was actively coordination with the Sanders or Clinton campaign, and suppressing Donald Trump News, it would turn an independent expenditure(protected by the First Amendment) into a campaign contribution bercause it would be coordinated,” he said. “But, if they’re just saying ‘We don’t want Trump material on our site,’ they have every right to do that. It’s protected by the First Amendment.”

Censorship of Trending Topics

In May of 2016, tech blog Gizmodo confirmed what many had suspected and what was obvious to those with common sense - that Facebook was systematically suppressing news stories from conservative outlets and those which represented a positive conservative message. “Facebook workers routinely supressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section, according to a former journalist, who worked on the project,” reported Gizmodo.

The whistleblower revealed that the company suppressed stories about CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Committee conference), Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other topics from showing up on the trending module, even though they would have appeared there originally from so many people posting about them.It wasn’t just one whistleblower, but several, and they also revealed that employees would manually insert topics into the trending list that they wanted to get more attention. One former employee said that the positive stories about Black Lives Matter were often inserted into the trending box  to help them go viral when they didn’t originally trend from people posting about them.

“In other words,” Gizmodo reported, “Facebook news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. Imposing human editorial values on to the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing - but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists ‘topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.’”

They also called the news section “some of the most powerful real estate on the internet” that helps dictate what hundreds of millions of people are reading.One of the news curators said they used a notebook to document stories that were censored which included ones about Lois Lerner, the IRS officiel who targeted conservatives for audits; stories about the Drudge Report, Ted Cruz, Steven Crowder, and more.

A second curator said, “It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is. Every once in a while a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.”

If a story was on Breitbart, The Washington Examiner, Newsmax or other conservative sites and was going viral and qualified to be included in the trending module, curators would wait until an outlet like CNN or The New York Times covered the story before it would be allowed to show up as a trend. One insider revealed that Facebook injected the latest Black Lives Matter protests into the trending module, giving them a special preference to further their cause. The editors also prevented negative stories about Facebook itself from showing up in the trending section.

The very next day after the story broke about Facebook manipulating the trending topics list, the US Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees interstate commerce and communications, sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg with a list of detailed questions demanding answers about who determines which stories are included in the Trending Topics section. They also wanted to know details about the process of selection, oversight and wanting answers to the allegations of politically motivated manipulation.

Mark Zuckerberg then invited severel conservative media figures including Glenn Beck, Fox News host Dana Perino, Tucker Carlson, and others to Facebook’s headquaters to try and save face, prevent conservatives from abandoning Facebook, and to ‘talk about their concerns’.But since our world moves so fast most people quickly forgot all about the scandal and continue to blindly believe that what they see trending is what people are talking about most, not even giving it a second thought about the legitimacy what they are seeing.

“Boosting” Posts

Most people think that what they and their friends post (and what news sites they follow post), shows up in their feed unless they choose to hide posts from a user they are still following, but Facebook openly admits limiting the distribution of posts unless users pay them (in most cases, hundres of dollars for each post). It’s called “boosting” a post and is mostly for people like me who have a “fan page”wich is what all public figures, TV shows, News outlets, and bands use. It has a few more features than standard Facebook pages, such as not having to approve a friend request every time someone follows the page.

My page, at the time I’m writing this has about 500.000 followers. But each status update I post only show up on a few thousand people’s news feeds. Thisisn’t some conspiracy, it’s just a method Facebook uses to generate money, by encouraging administrators of fan pages to “boost” their post, or pay to actually show up in the feeds of people who af following the page. For administrators of “fan pages,” when we post something, we are alerted with af button that says”Boost this post” wich take us to a checkout page showing various prices and the corresponding number of people Facebook will then allow to se the post.

For example to boost a post so that it will reach at least 100.000 of the 500.000 people following my page, the cost is $4.000. That’s for one status update. I mention this because a lot of people wonder why they miss posts from pages they follow, and this is the reason. You may only ber seeingone out of every four posts because of the limitation Facebook puts on the posts that aren’t being “boosted.”

Experimenting on Users

Aside from the previously mentioned secret study into Facebook’s effectiveness of getting out the vote in the 2010 midterm elections by using 60 million people as unknowing guinea pigs, Facebook has conducted other experiments on it’s users as well. In 2012 they manipulated the news feeds of 700.000 people by both limiting and boosting the number of positive and negative posts showing up in some people’s feeds to determine whether they could alter their moods. They then monitored what those users posted to see if they where either more negativ og positive as a result of what what they where regularly seeing in their own feeds. All Facebook users actually consent to this kind of manipulation by agreeing to terms of service when they sign up.

Leaked documents also revealed that Facebook experimented on what they considered to be emotionally vulnerable teenagers who felt “useless.” The documents show that the companys algorithms can determine which users are feeling “Worthless,” “insecure,” “useless,” “overwhelmed,” and other depressed feelings, and then they use this assesment to allow advertisers to target those people with adds for products they think they will be able to get them to buy.

Because of the continued instances of people committing horrific crimes while broadcasting them using Facebooks ‘Live’ feature, the company is developing an artificial intelligence system to watch live streams in real time , and monitor peoples posts in order to remove any ‘offensive’ og violent contend. If their A.I. is able to monitor all posts and live stream in near real time, it opens the door for Orwellian censorship straight out of a science fiction film, because those who control the parameters for having content be removed could choose to use the system to prevent the spread of certain views, as we have already seen with the Trending Topics scandal.

In May of 2017, Facebook hired another 3000 people to monitor live streams, and other posts that are flagged for potentially violent or ‘hateful’ content in an attempt to have such posts removed more quickly. So there is now a virtual army of moderators ready to not just delete post or videos, but to shut down livestreams if someone i talking about an issue in a way Facebook deems ’sexist,’ ‘racist,’ ‘homophobic,’ or any other number of buzzwords that indicate ‘Thought Crime.’

A Threat to Free Speech

Relying on Facebook to communicate with friends and family has become a threat to free speech around the world as fewer people actually talk on the phone (let alone meet face to face). People are now being arrested for ‘hate speech’ for posting criticism about their government’s policies on Facebook. This isn’t just happening in Third World countries or Orwellian dictatorships like Communist China or North Korea; it’s happening i England, Scotland, Germany, Canada, and other supposedly ‘free’ countries. Facebook also frequently deletes users’ posts and lock their accounts (or deletes their accounts entirely) for posting statements critical of illegal immigration, the LGBT agenda and other policies the Leftists are pushing.

These alleged ‘terms of service’ violations aren’t for posting threats, they’re for simply criticizing the liberal agenda, or for using certain words that social justice warriors deem ‘hateful.’ This kind of Orwellian censorship is the equivalent of your phone company listening to every conversation you have, and then turning of your phone if they didn’t like what you were saying.

Facebook has deleted several of my posts and locked me out of my account for three days for such ‘violations’ after I criticized anti-white racism and a bizarre pro-transgender soap commercial. I expect that any day they may hust delete my account altogether for what they will claim is a ’serious violation’ of their terms of service.

When logging on one morning I was told, “We removed the post because it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards,” and I found that Facebook had deleted a post I made that was critical of a Dove soap commercial featuring ‘Real moms’ which included a transgender ‘woman’ holding ‘her’ new little baby, and the person ‘identified’ as the child’s ‘mother’ even though he was the biological father. All I did was post a link to a story about the commercial, along with the comment, “Excuse me now while I go grab some Irish Spring to clean up my puke,” a sarcastic joke, referencing Irish Sprig, a competitor’s soap.

People often call this being put in a “Facebook Jail” which means you can’t log in or post anything for up to 30 days, depending on how many times you’ve been suspended for ‘violating’ their terms of service. Facebook has suspended people for simply posting Bible verses that are critical of homosexuality. Other post critical of of illegal immigration, black crime, LGBT extremists, or radical Muslims are regularly deleted as well.

Facebook employees have actually pressured Mark Zuckerberg to delete some of Donald Trump’s posts for violating their ‘hate speech’ rules for his stance on immigration. Again, imagine the phone company canceling your service because they didn’t like what you and your friends talked about. That’s basically what Facebook and the other social media giants are doing by policing what people post and then shutting down their pages if they feel something is too ‘offensive’ or violate their terms om service.

Facebook quietly admits censoring content for the Chinese government. The website was banned in China in 2009, so Facebook developed new censorship tools to appease the communist government there, an so they allowed the website back. The day befor Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in the UK, Facebook suspended a bunch of pages of people and groups they suspected were going to ’cause trouble’ during the event. And Mark Zuckerberg has admitted working with various European countries in order to censor criticism of the mass influx of muslims into Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden.

Some are calling for Facebook (and other social media sevices, including search engines like Google) to be treated as public utilities. One of the arguments is that using them in today’s society is as necessary as having acces to traditional utilities like telephone, water, electricity and natural gas.

After the historic flooding Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, many victims took to social media begging to be rescued, posting their address an pictures of the rising floodwater, and many were rescued by volunteers this way. One may argue that banning people from such sites could put their lives at risk, and is one more reason Facebook Twitter, and other social media services should be considered utilities that can’t be shut off just because someone is posting things the companies don’t agree with.

The Future of Facebook

Not only does Facebook want to be the middle man on all internet traffic, but they’re getting into commerce by enabling financial transactions, original content creation like Amazon and Netflix, and they hope to lead the virtual reality revolution. Mark Zuckerberg has even created flying solar-powered Wi-Fi routers to bring the internet to remote parts of Africa, and envisions a world where instead of physically going ti a friend’s house to watch a football game, everyone will stay at their own homes and put on their VR headsets to watch television ‘together’ while communicating with each other through avatars. They are calling it Facebook Spaces.

If you’re starting to think Facebook’s vision of the future looks like something right out of The Matrix, you wouldn’t be wrong. Zuckerberg himself says that in 50 years we’ll all be “pluggerd into the Matrix” through his mind-reading machines and using virtual reality headsets as part of our daily lives. He said, “I think you’re going to be able capture a thought [and take] what you’re thinking or feeling, in its kind of ideal and perfect form in your head, and share that with the world.”

Such themes have been explored in science fiction films like Surrogates (2009), eXistenZ (1999), and The Thirteenth Floor (1999), all of which warn about the dangers of this kind of society, but Zuckerberg is determined to make such a thing a reality.

Facebooks forsøg på at fremstille en kunstig intelligens, der kan censure øjeblikkeligt skal ses sammen med at kineserne råder over teknologi, der kan genkende ansigter i selv store menneskemængder og Google arbejder på teknologi der vil være i stand til at genkende menneskestemmer blandt mange.

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