The 2020 race and Facebook

According to “buzz on the internet”, which for me these days says “what the media wants people to think others are talking about”, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is planning to run for President in 2020.

My post from yesterday seems rather timely, then.

This is one of those Elephant In The Room moments. Does nobody see the problem here? Nobody?

In the wake of Clinton’s shock loss, there were myriad news stories trying to find out what went wrong, or more importantly who they could blame. Immediately Facebook was in the firing line for permitting the spread of “fake news”, with Clinton herself using those very words about stories about her on social media.

Zuckerberg was then in the unenviable position of having to refute his network’s influence while simultaneously peddling his network’s efficacy to potential investors. To say that he was between a rock and a hard place is an understatement. When the eyes of the most powerful people in the world are implying your being complicit in their downfall must be unnerving to say the least.

Very recently, Clinton has named Facebook specifically in promulgating fake news which led to her poll defeat.

But back to that Elephant.

If Facebook is as effective any many had posited, do they not see the problem with Zuckerberg running for President? Do they not see how the person who has the finger on the buttons that can approve and deny people access to information which could sway their decision? Facebook is the number 3 site on the internet, behind Youtube and Google’s homepage. To a lot of people, Facebook is the Internet. They never go beyond that page.

The idea that a Presidential candidate can control that flow of information just flat-out concerns me. Equally concerning is the lack of other peoples’ concern about this. Are we just going to let someone whose company is (according to former employees) manipulating and suppressing viewpoints that didn’t befit their organisation or their political buddies.

I’ve linked to Gizmodo above, and now I need a shower – although I don’t think there’s enough soap in the world that could cleanse me of the ick.

My previous post talked about how sites which are the most popular should consider their positions one of responsibility rather than partisanship, which is why I don’t accept the “It’s their site, they can do what they want” bollocks. We wouldn’t accept it if the tables were flipped, so we shouldn’t accept it now.

If Zuckerberg decided to run for President, he would need to appoint independent auditors to Facebook’s premises to ensure that no tampering of counter viewpoints occurs. Or he could do what many other power brokers on the planet do;

Buy a puppet.

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The Griffin Head joke

I hate that I need to reiterate a point I’ve already made, but the week’s story that everyone seems to be talking about – for reasons I do not fathom – is the one where comedian Kathy Griffin holds aloft the severed head of the President of the United States.

TJ Kirk’s video effectively sums up my thoughts on the scenario.

I loathe getting into left-right labelling, because it immediately paints people into categories of “them and us”. People will squeal, “Oh the lefties do this” or “those right-wing nutjobs are at it again” trying to convince whoever is within earshot that there is a good “us” side and a nasty “them” side.

When the truth is we’re all the same kind of dumb animals.

Kathy Griffin’s photo in this instance is grotesque and not to my taste. Like TJ Kirk, I think it boring, pedestrian, and unchallenging. Ooooh, you hate Trump? Great. Join the millions of others on the pile. Fucking yawn.

However, I do not feel it a good idea that I be some kind of arbiter as to what kind of speech is palatable for the masses. God knows I hate a great number of comedians, artists, musicians, and would love to have them never perform a single piece ever again, but I am not that kind of person. Not because I am of high moral fibre, or because I am smart.

But because I possess an “off” button on my technology. I can choose to not listen or watch or taste.

Griffin has since lamented the apparent loss of her career, and many have bayed for her dismissal from any kind of public role. As I said in my previous post, I do not think that instances like these warrant attacks on peoples’ livelihoods. If not because that effectively stifles free speech, then because it reduces all discussion into milquetoast inoffensive words that dare not push any boundaries – even if (and especially if) boundaries need to be pushed. Sometimes we need to be confronted with views.

I don’t mean to say that Griffin’s photo was a necessity, either. As I said, it was boring. There are far more interesting and important debates to be had than “I hate Trump”. But if our reaction to an actual debate is to attack the livelihood of those who engage in it, then this is a path to destruction.

“But the other side does it” is a fucking lazy excuse, too. Do better than your supposed “other side”, and maybe then some moderates might come around to actually listening to you.

As I’ve said: the behaviour you exhibit is the behaviour you endorse – even with your opposition. Especially with your opposition.