The news of government collusion with Facebook is not surprising, but still disappointing. What is your response?
For months it has been rumored that Big Tech had deliberately colluded with the government to control the information being presented on social media. Much of this revolved around the controversial issues of COVID, but spice was added to the stir fry when Twitter banned Trump to “save democracy.” Previous to the events of January 6th, however, was mainstream media and Big Tech colluding to block all postings of the Hunter Biden laptop. All of this, critics would espouse, was “conspiracy theory.” This would be the sort of stuff that mainstream media would avoid. Such concerns were the purview of conservative pundits and Fox News.
Now it is not. Due to a lawsuit filed by the states of Missouri and Louisiana, several federal agencies were forced to release the e-mails of several individuals. Defendants include special agents of the FBI, Biden’s two press secretaries, Dr. Fauci, two White House advisors, DHS, CISA, the FDA, the State Department and the US Election Assistance Commission. One can only imagine the volume of cybernetic drivel that will come from this lawsuit. And this is one of several lawsuits that cover similar charges, including the banning of a former New York Times reporter from Twitter. These lawsuits should prove to be quite interesting to follow. The repercussions may extend well beyond a gross violation of the First Amendment, and well beyond social media. Real people suffered the consequences. Some careers suffered. Some lost their jobs. This is real money, asking for real punishment and compensation.
Of all the letters to the alphabet listed above, none I find so surprising as CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency). I had used CISA postings recently to track IT security issues as part of my work. Since 2018, they have acted as a clearinghouse of all information regarding malware, cyberattacks and pending updates to computer applications, operating systems and firmware. It shows you how deep the corruption can travel when an organization that catered largely to IT geeks can be co-opted to expedite what is blatantly censorship, a classic example of mission creep.
Since this is an article directed to Facebook users, it begs the question of how the lawsuit will affect Facebook. The purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk is a breath of fresh air. You can pick up the sense of content creators and pundits on social media that the effects are evident. It is not only what is said over social media, but the effective curtailment of “shadow-banning”. Several have mentioned how their “follows” have climbed dramatically. Many are now observing how their postings, which had progressively declining views over the past two years, have suddenly climbed back up. Musk’s crusade against bots has also resulted in a significant drop in comments and “follows” for many celebrities and leaders of the left.
John Stossel observed what appeared to be shadow-banning on Facebook. Can’t blame him. His “likes” amount to only a few hundred for each posting, compared to a ¼ million views on YouTube. I have posted controversial things from time-to-time on my EricN page and noticed that they don’t even appear on my personal Facebook account. While I certainly don’t have a huge following, I do receive responses from readers on several different platforms and it is sometimes unusual that Facebook is not one of them.
As you can surmise, suspicion of shadow-banning is in many ways conjecture. We don’t see the algorithm that hides our postings. But if you diversify where and how you communicate, you will detect trends. I recommend you view a recent episode of Louder with Crowder which covers in detail the analytics they use on their show to determine whether they are being censored. Crowder counts his viewers in the millions, while Stossel usually receives 150-500 thousand views per episode. All of us play by the same rules when it comes to promotion. To get the word out to a broader audience, you pay it forward. So it begs the question, “Would you trust a media platform that took your money and then lied about your coverage?”
There it is again. It is not just about the First Amendment. It is about money. It is, in essence, about deception and fraud. Serious stuff. I sense that the management of Facebook may be getting a tad bit uncomfortable.
Facebook and the FBI Portal
Whether Facebook is involved in this, time will tell. Zuckerberg stated on the Joe Rogan program that he had been approached by the FBI to watch out for “disinformation” that may be from foreign powers. He logically considered that concern when the Hunter Biden laptop report was posted in The New York Post in September 2020. So, to his credit, he is talking about it. But he may be twisting in the wind when he sees platforms such as Twitter being “liberated.” Musk is seeking to achieve what has alluded many social media platforms — a measure of true participation. If the numbers on Twitter become trustworthy, then watch out. Confidence will follow, and with confidence will come more revenue.
Facebook is also facing competition on another front with Telegram. The divide between Twitter, Facebook and Telegram is mostly with style. Facebook has a warmer feel to it. But they all do basically the same thing, providing a platform for people to post short thoughts, photos and videos. It has the edge in that it allows users to build their own communities. Telegram, however, is growing dramatically due to the Ukraine war and it is intrinsically designed for security (to hide from Russian authorities). Telegram is far less restrictive on what is posted, designed for adults who can figure out things on their own.
One thing that might vanish from Facebook will be the annoying “fact-checks.” Given that our presidents habitually lie, it begs the question of how it is that the average citizen can be expected to know the facts with every posting they make. Facebook recently followed Twitter in laying off several thousand employees, a sign that the platform may be returning to its core mission. That would be a good thing for everybody. Don’t be surprised if “verification” levels begin to appear.
What has come to the surface through the e-mail disclosures is the so-called “portal” on Facebook that was specifically reserved for members of the US government to flag so-called “disinformation.” As the title suggests, what is revealing is nothing to celebrate. It is sad. It is sickening. And nothing demonstrates this more than this pathetic response to the question about the portal. View it and you decide.
As you can easily discover in my list of resources, I have leaned heavily on reports from The New York Post and Fox News. It is not that I did not try to find another perspective. But as of this time, none of the mainstream media outlets have covered this issue. All the search results favor The New York Post and several independent news outlets.
Sad, isn’t it? Why is it that the major news outlets continue to ignore this problem?
What Can You, the Facebook User, Do About It?
Complaining to Facebook is basically pointless. I have facetiously said in the past that Facebook is basically good for posting recipes and photos of your kids and grandchildren. Serious discussion is best reserved for other venues like Locals or Substack.
I recommend you sharpen your skills in qualifying information. Disinformation is all over the place and the tendency of news and social media platforms revolving around “talking points” can often extend a half-truth into myth. But the responsibility for understanding that is you. It has always been the individual. That is one of the great signature principles of our country – that the individual is capable of reason. No government or media platform needs to do that for him.
The other thing you can do is vote with your feet. Facebook, in my day-to-day work, is almost irrelevant. So I do not spend a great deal of time on the platform. If you are frustrated with Facebook’s fact-checks or deliberate blockage of your postings, go elsewhere. One thing I highly recommend is that you remove Facebook from your phone. After all, why would you want Meta following you around all day? You might discover some sanity returning to your life.
Customer disengagement from Facebook is now a problem for Meta. Social media platforms go into cycles and various age groups tend to have their favored platforms. Like Twitter, Facebook took its eye off the ball, spending too much time catering to the federal government and its new virtual reality products, forgetting the average person who made the company highly successful. Average people have biases, prejudices and peculiar habits. Let them be. Community standards should be simple, as it is in life. No physical harm or threats. No pornography. When you get into such words as “hate” or “disinformation” you have the ominous task of getting inside the minds of your customers.
“Feds keep Facebook censorship portal despite DHS Disinformation Board demise,” New York Post, by Steven Nelson, October 31, 2022
“Lawsuit reveals vast censorship scheme by Big Tech and the federal government,” New York Post, by Miranda Devine, October 23, 2022
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© Copyright 2022 to Eric Niewoehner