Indeed, Mark Zuckerburg himself stands accused of favouring Combover Crybaby Donald Trump in the US Presidential Election, maybe because The Donald would let Zuck keep more of his earnings. But the real problem Facebook has is dealing with those out on the right who use the platform to peddle partisan misinformation.
Worse, Facebook has been less than lightning fast to deal with right-wingers who legitimise violent means to achieve their ends. That’s going way beyond any free speech argument. To see this in action, or perhaps that should read inaction, we only need to see what happened two days ago when the Trump Gang began to once again tap their supporters for donations, with an email claiming the election was being stolen.
It concluded “I need your help to ensure we have the resources to protect the results. We can’t allow the left-wing mob to undermine our election. I’m asking our fiercest and most loyal defenders, like you, to fight back!” Quite apart from the incitement overtones, it’s clear that there would soon be “stealing the election" groups and pages on Facebook.
So Facebook should have been watching. Well, the Trump Gang email was picked up on by Alex Tiffin at 0125 hours on Thursday. By 1540 hours (all these are UK time), the Centre for Countering Digital Hate had seen a Facebook group that concerned them. “Facebook is hosting a "Stop the Steal" group run by figures close to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. It is calling on 300,000 members to protest at vote counts and contains calls for violence. It has to be shut down”. It had probably been extant for some hours.
But it was not until after 1900 hours UK time that tech reporter Laurence Dodds told “Facebook has shut down a massive ‘Stop the Steal’ public group that was growing at breakneck pace as Trump supporters rally behind claims of mass election fraud. An FB spox said it was creating ‘real-world events’ and hosting calls for violence”.
By then, the genie was out of the bottle, as Shayan Sardarizadeh showed this morning, telling “The pace at which these ‘Stop the Steal’ Facebook groups change their names to evade detection or removal by Facebook is really something to behold”.
One group had become “Love for America”, with another becoming “Own Your Vote”. One group was now “Conservatives United: Saving America”, and pride of place had to go to the group that had changed its name to “Pots & Pans *stop* recipes 2.0”. Facebook had been caught on the hop and was now behind the curve. Well behind the curve.
Do Zuck and his pals want to be involved in actual violent crime? No. So do something.
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