by Mitch Feierstein about 10 months 2 weeks ago
Facebook has spent $130 million setting up a so-called “independent content oversight board” – but its make-up shows that nothing will change about the tech giant’s sinister use of mass surveillance and censorship.
Facebook’s market capitalization is close to $700 billion and its primary businesses are publishing, advertising and data collection. During the global lockdown, Facebook boasted that the number of its daily active users (DAUs) on average for March 2020 was 1.73 billion. For 2019, it reported a headcount of 48,268 employees as well as an advertising revenue of $17.44 billion.
Facebook users are “the product” that Facebook sells. In a New Yorker interview, Zuckerberg once admitted to describing Facebook’s users who were trusting him with their personal information by saying: “They trust me – dumb f**ks.”
As we saw in the case of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook data was sold to third parties and used to help political campaigns. In 2018, after hearing testimony from Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie before the UK Parliament, Damian Collins, chair of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) demanded that Zuckerberg appear to answer questions regarding Analytica’s harvesting of user data – aka data misuse. While Analytica claimed only 30 million Facebook users were impacted, other sources said up to 90 million users were exposed. We were never able to determine precisely what the number was.
When Facebook’s public relations surrounding the Analytica nightmare hit the fan, Zuckerberg hired former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as VP of global affairs and communications to deal with data protection, fake news, and government regulation. Slowly, the Cambridge Analytica scandal simply faded away from the news cycle.
In 2018, during Zuckerberg’s testimony before the US Senate and the EU Parliament, he was vague, unresponsive and evasive. Zuck totally avoided providing meaningful answers when asked questions about Facebook’s data collection, storage and privacy practices.
These issues are not the only questionable practices the left-leaning Facebook has been accused of – it has also been accused of censorship, particularly by conservatives. Zuckerbeg’s response, six months ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, has been to create a $130 million fancy editorial board he deemed his “Supreme Court” (the full list of Zuck’s court can be found here).
One of the tasks of this liberal “Supreme Court” will be to look at banning “hate speech,” for which no legal definition exists. Zuckerberg proclaimed his “Supreme Court” would be an “independent content oversight board” at Facebook and that this committee may be able to overrule Zuckerberg on what content should be censored, shadowbanned or withheld from public view on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Unfortunately, Zuckerberg, personally or via his particular proxies, has appointed heavily “progressive” liberal-left biased Facebook co-chairs. These co-chairs were then “allowed” to select other members of Zuckerberg’s “Supreme Court” – with Zuckerberg’s approval, of course.
How can anyone possibly view Facebook’s censorship committee as the least bit “independent” when Zuckerberg packs this board of moderators with members such as Pamela Karlan? Karlan is a Stanford law professor and is an openly mean-spirited anti-Trump campaigner who made fun of Trump’s 13-year-old son during congressional testimony.
Another pick, Alan Rusbridger, an ex-editor of the Guardian, once declared his mission, when running the UK newspaper to the verge of bankruptcy, was to create “the world’s leading liberal voice.” Even worse, another board member, Professor Nicolas Suzor, once liked a post that compared President Trump to Adolf Hitler. These should be disqualifying acts.
As far as shareholders having a say in anything Facebook, look at Facebook’s recent SEC filing:
“Because Facebook qualifies as a ‘controlled company’ under the corporate governance rules for Nasdaq-listed companies, Facebook are not required to have a majority of our board of directors be independent, nor are Facebook required to have a compensation committee or an independent nominating function. In the future Facebook could elect not to have a majority of our board of directors be independent or not to have a compensation committee or an independent nominating function. Accordingly, should the interests of our controlling stockholder (MARK ZUCKERBERG) differ from those of other stockholders, the other stockholders may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance rules for Nasdaq-listed companies. Our status as a controlled company could make our Class A common stock less attractive to some investors or otherwise harm our stock price.”
How does this “Supreme Court” show the world that Facebook is non-discriminatory, inclusive, diverse, fair, balanced or even moderately concerned about accepting all viewpoints, including conservative and alternative viewpoints? Zuckerberg’s openly biased censorship committee is all about a power grab. Simple. If the left cannot win at the ballot box, they will win via indoctrination, censorship and propaganda.
Zuckerberg and his “Supreme Court” are not the only far left operatives at Facebook. In a previous article, I detailed how Facebook’s COO, and political operative, Sheryl Sandberg was actively working with John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, on the Clinton campaign. Politico reported that Sandberg was put on Clinton’s shortlist to become US treasury secretary after Clinton won, though Sandberg later denied it.
Sandberg has always been heavily involved in politics supporting the Democratic Party. Under Bill Clinton, she served as the chief of staff for the US Treasury Department. After Sandberg’s work with the Clinton administration, she became a vice president at Google before becoming Zuckerberg’s COO at Facebook. Sandberg served on Barack Obama’s President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness as well as serving on several boards, including Walt Disney Company – owners of ABC News, ESPN and many other cable channels. Sandberg’s Facebook compensation in 2019 was around $30 million.
Zuck and Sandberg are trying to sell the idea that Facebook is not a publisher and therefore, can hide behind censorship. But in fact, Facebook is one of the world’s largest publishers and advertising companies, which specializes in the collection and sale of user data. The formation of Facebook’s “Supreme Court”– as a body to oversee content – confirms Facebook’s legal liability and role as a publisher rather than a platform.
The time has come for US, UK and EU politicians to realize that Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are publishers. As such, Congress must remove Facebook’s exemption under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which affords tech platforms, not publishers, with immunity from lawsuits arising out of their decisions to host (or not to host) user-generated content.
In the 1940s, George Orwell warned of a tyrannical world government where all citizens were subjected to constant surveillance and censorship. Well, Zuckerberg, with help from Silicon Valley’s Google, Twitter, YouTube and Amazon, is very close to realizing Orwell’s dystopian nightmare.
In Orwell’s 1984, “Oceania” was one of three fictional authoritarian superstates ruled by Gestapo-like thought police known as “The Party.” The Party prohibited critical thought and individuality and relied upon mass surveillance and propaganda to rule the masses. Two constant themes repeated throughout Orwell’s totalitarian novel were “Big Brother”and “Big Brother is watching you.”
Zuckerberg’s Facebook has become “Big Brother,” and its power grab is a censorship-based mass surveillance superstate designed to usurp personal freedoms, liberty and democracy.
It’s time to break-up Facebook and regulate it like a utility.