As I’m watching members of the Senate, people who clearly know nothing about Facebook, asking Mark Zuckerberg questions he couldn’t possibly answer honestly without a lot more information, I think back to how this started: information about FB users somehow got away from Facebook. It was supposedly information users consented to share via an app, and when they did it, they somehow also gave consent to give away information that wasn’t theirs to share, that of their friends. This data got into the hands of Cambridge Analytica and others who intended to use it to trick ignorant Americans into acting against their own interests and voting for a conman for president (and for other members of the GOP who would help to support the conman’s and his Russian master’s agendas).
Now members of the Senate are behaving as if Zuckerberg knows all of us on Facebook personally, as if he checks each post and advertiser personally. On the one hand, they want him to let everyone post anything they choose – because First Amendment – and accuse him of personally taking down conservative pages (while asking him if he’s ever taken down a women’s health care page like Planned Parenthood because obviously those are bad – we wouldn’t want to help poor women stay healthy, would we?). On the other hand, Zuckerberg is supposed to know where all the money comes from, every advertiser and their messages/how they market/whether or not the groups they aim their advertising at mean they are discriminating, how long it takes to delete information when an account is closed, etc. It’s painfully clear that our lawmakers need to show they have some understanding about the balance a business like Facebook needs to maintain, making allowance for freedom of speech while also preventing stalking/harassment and/or hate speech. They also need to know it’s a big company with employees. Jobs are delegated.
These lawmakers are also trying very hard to get Z. to commit to support various laws they might or might not propose in the future and even a “bill of rights” for minors on social media without him having any details on these proposals, what they are intended for, why these lawmakers think they’re necessary. I’m not a lawyer, but I know better than to commit to mysterious ideas or bills without information. Many of the lawmakers are lawyers, too. They should know better.
All that said, while I’m not a huge fan of Zuckerberg’s, I think his product was a good idea, and I have no illusions that his product is perfect. After all, Facebook is software that collects our personal information. My information wasn’t shared with Russia or whoever because I know better than to play the games, offer up my friend’s info, give money to or through Facebook, etc. I expect everyone else knows better, too. I sure the hell hope my friends know better because my friends aren’t ignoramuses. If people don’t know better, it’s not Zuckerberg’s fault, most likely. We’ve all watched movies; we’re aware of how valuable our personal information is. We also said we understood the terms of service when we signed up. We all know to read the fine print. It’s on us if we don’t read it (of course I didn’t – I don’t always – but I also know I’m responsible for understanding the legalese I “signed”).
If there are large advertising accounts that pay in rubles, then yes, Z. should know about them. And he should ask questions. Honestly, if I saw some of the crazy shit going around that I did, I would have wondered, but it was mostly coming from individuals as far as I could tell (people I immediately blocked and/or reported because my friends aren’t ignoramuses). If Zuckerberg and his people saw it was coming from elsewhere, they should also check. If they’ve broken the law or something, of course, they should be punished. They’ve already taken a hit when it comes to the public’s trust. The point is, while he has some responsibility to review some content even if it’s not reported directly to him, it’s also our responsibility as adults to check information.
This is important, so I’ll repeat it: it’s our responsibility as adults to check information to be sure that it’s factual before we act on it, before we forward it, before we try to convince other people that it’s right/true.
Every day I deal with people who cannot recognize a fact when it’s right in front of them. I ask for support for assertions every day from people who, instead of providing reputable sources, post Breitbart stories or crazy conspiracy videos they found on youtube and insist that I waste my valuable time partaking of the drivel they post (no thanks, I’m not an ignoramus). It’s vitally important to these fools that I read or watch and believe and drink of their hate/stupid/crazy Kool-Aid (whichever flavor the ignoramus is peddling – hate is especially popular lately). When I remind them that link/video they provided is not a reputable source and therefore isn’t useful, likely isn’t true or even remotely in the neighborhood of any facts, and would they instead provide a reputable source, they behave as if there is something wrong with me. Since they insist these claims they make are true and easy to verify, they refer me back to their propaganda and then call me lazy for not watching the video/verifying their bullshit/just believing whatever they say. I didn’t make the batshit assertion; it’s not on me to prove it or provide support. Try to explain that to ignoramuses, though. Go ahead.
Yes, Facebook representatives should not have sold misleading advertising that affects American elections. Yes, Facebook people should somehow know when one application, among the hundreds (thousands?) of games and other time-wasting apps that access personal information from Facebook, aims to collect the information for nefarious purposes. Yes, they should do everything in their power to prevent this stuff happening. I believe they’ll do better, that they probably have been to a degree all along. I have no idea if they’ll do it because they should or because they don’t want to get caught again. Regardless of the reasons, they’ve learned from the breach. Make no mistake, though. There will be others. This isn’t like the Equifax shit where the company appears to have wanted it to happen, or at least, they didn’t care one way or the other. I don’t think the higher-ups at Facebook were part of the breach. In the end, it’s up to us to check things we see and to be aware of what we’re making available to the public. As for FB, technology evolves as do ways to hack/abuse it.
I don’t blame the ignorant and hateful shit that spews from Americans’ mouths/fingertips in videos and on social media on Russia or Facebook or Twitter or anyone else. I think we should do everything in our power to keep those who provide news honest, but when it comes to the lies I blame the ignoramus Americans who are putting it out there, who believe it, and who are trying to make me believe it. They might not know better, but they damned well should.
I’ve been over this before, how we shouldn’t be proud of our ignorance, though many of us are, and how it would help immensely to bring back the Fairness Doctrine or something very similar to require our news to be more responsible. The fact of the matter is this “united country” turned out to be a damned lie. These people who are spewing hate and lies and pushing them on us were doing this long before Russia and whoever else convinced ignoramuses to hand over their personal information. Perhaps many of us never saw them because social media, being relatively new, has given them a platform for sharing their stupid and lies to a much wider audience than they had before. Perhaps they’re also not used to people requesting citations. Tough shit. I’m going to keep on insisting on them.
People had better be ready to back up their bullshit just as I expect people to call me on mine.
I am a strong believer in knowledge as power. If we don’t know and understand where we are, how we got here, how can we possibly make an informed step forward? Without knowing where we are, any step we choose will likely be in a random direction.
It’s time for the “taking it on faith” people who share what they hear because it sounds right to them without checking to be called on all of it. Seeing as how they also tend to be the bigots and sexists spewing the lies, I say we bring it all out into the light. We’ve been coddling the religious hypocrites, racists, and liars for far too long. As far back as the Civil War we’ve been worried about division and alienating people who were the shit-stirrers to start with. I’m over that. Hold adults accountable for their statements and actions. I say it’s time for a truth smackdown. The kid gloves are off. And I don’t intend to let up.
We, white people, need to deal with the fact that we inherited a country founded on slavery and genocide. We still benefit from it. Hell, there should be a holiday for the end of Civil War, for beating back the TRAITORS who believed slavery (and the greed of a few white men) was more important than unity and community. These traitors were willing to kill fellow Americans for their right to own and abuse other human beings. Why are we so worried about hurting these asshole’s feelings? Why are some still buying their bullshit excuses about “preserving history?” Those ancestors and the current adherents (easy to spot as they still wave the flag of traitors to America) were vile human beings. Take down their monuments to hate, and declare a national holiday recognizing the victory over slavery and genocide, the victory over treason. Require Americans to learn facts, face the truth, about who they are and what they defend.
And don’t pretend just because your ancestors didn’t immigrate to the USA until after the Civil War that this has nothing to do with you. We still benefit from the slavery and genocide in this nation’s past. We’re as responsible as everyone else for where we are now, what we allow now.
All of this shit is not going away. These sides are as clear as they’ve ever been: part of America faces facts, even if the truth hurts, works for and recognizes the progress we’ve made together and how far we have to go. The other part of America longs to go back in time and to take even more from those they oppress. They change the facts to fit what they want to hear, what they want to believe, what their sensitive egos can handle. In the process, they’re giving more and more – money, power, ammunition – to the kakistocracy. These people are so ignorant they’re being suckered into electing the worst into office so these thieves they elect have the power to take even more from them. And from us. Their ignorance is bringing us all down, and it’s running the country into the ground and driving up our debt. We can want their vile hatred and ignorance hidden again, but that won’t help. We need all of this exposed, out in the light. After all, the best disinfectant is sunlight.
“One of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to facts.” ― C.S. Lewis
Don’t just roll your eyes or leave their hate and their bullshit unchallenged. Take the time. Challenge it. If they’re going to pipe up, expect them to behave like responsible adults. They live in the same society we do, a society that teaches critical thinking, that expects everyone to pitch in, to pull their weight. Expect precisely that, nothing less. No more excuses. Do your best to bring facts and truth out into the light and dispel the lies and conspiracies that lead and/or contribute to steps backward in our society and in our sovereignty.
Do better. Be better. Expect better from others.
Incorrect beliefs get in the way of learning the truth. Seek out and learn to recognize facts. Find and embrace the truth. It will set us free.
One more thing, while we’re on the subject of truth and Zuckerberg’s testimony to the Senate: there is a fun new lie spreading through the conservative fake news shows. Link: “Did the Obama Campaign Employ the Same Tactics as Cambridge Analytica?” – Snopes
Link: “‘You Have to Stand Up to Evil’: Madeleine Albright on Facing Fascism and What She Worries About Most Right Now” – by Lily Rothman at Time
Link: “Make the Confederacy’s Defeat a National Holiday” – by Brian Beutler at The New Republic (5 April 2015, the week of the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy’s surrender)
Link: Truth Ism – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Through – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Beware: Ignorance – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Abuse of Power – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link to thread from Charlotte Clymer. This is important. Read it all.
Link to a Tweet from Zack Bornstein that made me laugh at the end of all this:
Edited to include two more links. 12 April 2018