Facebook is a 'parallel universe' of lies and minisformation crafted to deliver the election to Trump

Faecesbook This is a commentary by Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing on a New York Times article describing how the far-right is exploiting Facebook with ruthless efficiency. At least, that’s one way to look at it. Another, as Beschizza notes, is:

“…that Facebook’s cultivation of these audiences is intentional, simply because a Democratic congress and president would present a more potent threat to Facebook than Trump and his cronified GOP ever will. It’s no secret that Zuckerberg is more concerned with conservative critics than progressive ones, a concern often cast as fear but could just as well be because that’s who he and his team wants to please. The right will carp but it knows it rules Facebook from the inside out. Only the left talks seriously about breaking it up.”

That’s an interesting take on things. It would not surprise me if it is true but, if this is what it is doing, it is most likely through deliberate failure to dampen virality rather than more obvious algorithm tuning. It would not be a moral compass that holds it in check – it has no moral compass – but plausible deniability. 

I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it: DO NOT USE FACEBOOK. Stop it. Really. If you must use it, use it in a special isolated tab in Firefox (you can get the plugin here), or use different browser solely for that purpose. Then get out of it as soon as you can. As for Whatsapp, Instagram, or any other tool, device, or app that Facebook owns, just say no (or, if you must use them, NEVER use Facebook itself). It bugs the hell out of me that my avoidance of Facebook means I am unable to see a lot of useful things people have witlessly shared on this closed and malicious platform, and I am so sad that the formerly great Whatsapp and Instagram apps, despite the contracts under which they were sold that were meant to stop exactly such abuse, are now just slimy Facebook tentacles. However, I refuse to willingly feed my identity to the Devil that has tried (with too much success) to destroy the Web, and that feeds – and feeds on – the darkness in people’s souls for its own profit. Full disclaimer: I do have an account, as well as Instagram and Whatsapp account, but they are for research purposes. Sometimes you have to take risks in order to learn.

The original article notes some caveats, including that the massive disparity between far-right posts and those of the rest of the world has only been demonstrated in public posts, and that it might include a fair number of legitimate hate-shares. The latter can be significant: I am not sure whether I am typical, but I certainly share at least as many articles of which I disapprove as those that I like. Whether this is a good thing or not is very much up for debate (e.g. see here, here, here, and here).

Originally posted at: https://landing.athabascau.ca/bookmarks/view/6494864/facebook-is-a-parallel-universe-of-lies-and-minisformation-crafted-to-deliver-the-election-to-trump

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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