Op-Ed: Dictators using Facebook against citizens? You don’t say?

Posted Sep 5, 2018 by Paul Wallis
The dribbling madness of U.S. politics isn’t the only thing that happens on social media. Social media sufferers may not be too surprised that some governments and various other official criminals are using Facebook to kill their own people.
Facebook number two executive Sheryl Sandberg repeated that the social network was too slow to respo...
Facebook number two executive Sheryl Sandberg repeated that the social network was too slow to respond to foreign influence campaigns
There’s a very good story in The Verge which spells out the issues. This ugly situation includes actual tracing of Facebook users online by some of the world’s leading scum. People have been killed, and basically persecuted in the most medieval ways. The world’s biggest social media platform is also a soap box for propaganda, attacks on opposition groups, and massive disinformation campaigns.
Directly implicated in these activities are Libya, Iran, the Philippines, and of course the troll hordes of Western politics. Then there’s Russia’s invaluable contributions to making the world a more miserable place. You’d think a country famous for its own centuries of misery would know better, but when has anything political ever related to human reality?
What’s in it for all these altruistic supporters of tyranny, you ask? Plenty. Paid trolls are nothing new, but now, if you’re a good little troll, you can get government jobs in some countries. A lot of this “work” is basically spin, distorting facts and doing the usual political smears, conspiracy theories as facts, etc. It’s all totally twisted, but it’s now an industry.
Congress, in its own de-focused dotage, is now holding hearings to investigate how the social media insanity can be used against America. You can use the irony in that situation to create buildings and other infrastructure, it’s so massive in scope.
So what’s Facebook supposed to do?
Facebook, meanwhile, has to deal with what is obviously the most anti-social outcome of social media, and deal with it head on.
There are a few options for Facebook, but also a cost:
***Simply end Facebook services for the countries involved. It would shut down the horrors, and force these “governments” to move their fecal methods elsewhere. We Facebook users won’t mind a bit.
***Use Facebook as a monitor for friendly intelligence services. That’s fairly easy, and appropriate. I’d be prepared to bet that isn’t what Facebook’s founders had in mind when they started, but these platforms can provide a lot of information for modern intelligence. The idea of being monitored wouldn’t be too popular with the nations which are abusing the system, too.
***A mix of both methods, to create some real doubt about the wisdom of using Facebook, would also work. Fake accounts can come and go, but if they’re shutting down fake accounts, and for some reason not shutting down your fake account, why not? Doubt can be a very effective weapon.
***Far be it from me to suggest simply recycling and reprogramming the bots, of course. Or using them to spread the exact opposite messages on the bots’ home turf. You could respond instantly to anything these loathsome lazy liars produce.
So where are all the internet heroes?
Consider this: You give computers to 8 billion people of varying levels of intellect and sanity. The culture hasn’t grown up yet. In these countries, and across many demographics, including Western countries, basic literacy is still infantile at best. During the print days, you could never have got away with what the trolls are doing now. People wouldn’t have believed a word of it, or even the suggestion that they would believe it.
Bottom line - If you want a healthy, free internet, find the fixes for these repulsive practices. Call it online disinfectant, call it sanity, but it must be done.