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Op-Ed: Blaming Facebook for social realities – Do go on, dear little hypocrites.

Media and politicians complaining about social media is truly bizarre. This is the hate-filled, insane, dishonest, crime-worshipping environment they created.

Facebook was among social media platforms hit by an outage. — © AFP
Facebook was among social media platforms hit by an outage. — © AFP

Ever wonder why News International, in the form of the Wall Street Journal, and Congress, that retirement home of saints, are constantly targeting Facebook for the world’s realities? The corporation that gives you FOX News doesn’t like Facebook? The people who have no ideas about anything don’t like it? Gosh, Auntie Em.

****(Readers are invited to think of an exceptionally slow version of Turkey in the Straw as a soundtrack to set the mood for this opinion article. Non-readers are invited to just think, Duh…Hyuck until they feel better about themselves.)

We’re talking specifically about the last decade or so of total mayhem in particular when it comes to Facebook. Prior to Cambridge Analytica, nobody, particularly Congress, gave a damn about social media beyond getting their faces out there.  

WSJ vs Facebook – Context vs hyper-hypocritical spin

The WSJ information that is being reported worldwide is probably quite OK and above board. It mirrors a lot of information previously coming from Facebook, directly and indirectly. It doesn’t contradict anything, either.

Facebook conducted a lot of research and did at least some soul-searching about its issues over the last few years. The information isn’t particularly new, but all ballpark. Facebook didn’t like some of that information, either. It was pretty negative.

The news about Facebook isn’t exactly tepid, and it’s continuous. There’s so much of this stuff I can either give you an overview or write an encyclopedia:

  • Whistleblowers have also stated that Facebook’s response to issues like human trafficking was feeble, notably trafficking in domestic workers.
  • Critics say Facebook can’t moderate user content volumes. (Duh about covers it.)
  • Facebook’s content management algorithms don’t work. The AI can’t handle it. No surprise there. Algorithms are like recipes. A recipe will either do the job or not; it’ll produce sponge cake or cement.
  • Instagram is the cause of all America’s youth problems, according to someone. The sheer raging incompetence of managing the Instagram issues is now a social legacy issue, and still nothing happens.
  • Facebook has a detrimental effect on poor countries, politically. (What doesn’t?)
  • Facebook is “putting profits before people” according to some. Now get an electron microscope and try to find a business on Earth that isn’t doing exactly that.  
  • Mexican gangs are allegedly doing drug deals and hiring hitmen on Facebook. They can do that on phones, too, but hey… (This is particularly poignant for me. Years ago, one of my first articles on DJ was about the gigantic shipments of arms to Mexico from the US just before the gang wars began. Nobody gave the beginnings of a damn. Meh, you say? Yep.)
  • Scammers are using Facebook Marketplace! Obviously, there are no scams anywhere else on Earth, particularly in America, and it’s all Facebook’s fault. Sure, it is.

…And so on. This is where the spin comes in, hard, with a lot of torque and misdirection. It also comes with a lot of disingenuous claptrap and more misdirection. Check out that very short list above.

These are social realities. This is the state of the world, 2021, in all its inglorious stupidity. These are all the things politicians around the world (and their pet media) have done precisely nothing about for decades. Everyone’s outraged, nothing happens. Ever.

What’s so surprising about social realities showing up on social media?

…So the critics, and particularly Congress, are shooting the noticeboard in the foyer.  Not even the messenger. This is pure hypocrisy and it’s killing a lot of people.

Try this on for a snug fit:

  • The big issues on social media are trolls, political and otherwise. MIT Technology Review has an interesting article on troll farms well worth reading on this subject. These are deliberate foreign agents, agencies and state actors, and everyone knows that. Not one single solitary damn thing has ever been done about that and probably never will be done. …But that’s Facebook’s fault, obviously.
  • Politicians weren’t complaining at all about the massive hype and disinformation during the elections. That was fine. How many of America’s pampered political saints got elected that way?
  • Facebook is not a law enforcement agency. It never was, and can’t be. Nor should it be. Social media courts? Sounds healthy, doesn’t it? …Or should someone in law enforcement try doing their own damn jobs, for novelty’s sake?

Now… Why so much hate from the people who live on polarization themselves?

Politicians fear Facebook and social media for a good, if equally ultra-hypocritical, reason. What makes them can also break them, and it does. Social media is far more powerful than they are. This is, in all its many klutz-esque ways, a type of raw, if often illiterate and misled democracy.

Media fears social media for much the same, and in this case, realistic, reason. This is instant news, real or imaginary. It’s a lot quicker, and more market penetrant, than they and their antiquated business models and outdated biases can ever be.

The disinformation environment

Media and politicians complaining about social media is truly bizarre. This is the hate-filled, insane, dishonest, crime-worshipping environment they created. This is the ineffectual, totally lost society they’ve allowed to rot for decades.

Now, both media and politicians are effectively dependent on that environment. It is literally who they are and what they do. The right-wing hate machine, in particular, has a hell of a lot to fear from any level of media transparency. Their Bonfire of the Inanities can’t exist without social media. The fires of idiocy have to be kept stoked, continuously, or they’ll go out.

…So the parasites are complaining about the parasitized. This is also routine misdirection, to a point. The irony is that if they did create a precedent for dismantling Facebook, they’d also be losing a huge platform for their own tiresome business.

…Nor can this argument be in any way effective for any length of time. If Facebook goes, a few million others, notably Twitter, are ready to step in. Twitter Communities could become another Facebook overnight. Consider well, schmucks, where this leads.

Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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