Zuckerberg stumbled and evaded while attempting to respond to AOC on Facebook Behaviors and Policies, especially its Political “Lie Exemption” Policy
While Mark Zuckerberg’s controversial Libra cryptocurrency project is what initially got him into the House for another hearing on October 23rd, the House Financial Services Committee Members took this as an opportunity to express their concerns about Facebook’s paramount involvement in a variety of controversial issues.
Each committee member was given five minutes to address their Facebook policy concerns with Zuckerberg, and they did not waste their time, especially Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she interrogates him regarding Facebook’s influential role in endangering the nation’s democracy and general safety.
Here’s a brief rundown of the topics she addresses that continue to put Zuckerberg and his insidiously dangerous Facebook ‘megaphone‘ under hot water to this very day:
Libra Cryptocurrency: Another Scam to hide behind an Outsourced Entity in order to Evade Accountability? This time, he’s going for the Poor and “Unbanked”
On June 14, 2019, Zuckerberg released his plans to launch a cryptocurrency project called Libra on Facebook, and since then, it’s been facing a lot of criticism from the government and anti-trust regulators.
The Libra cryptocurrency is a part of Facebook’s future mobile payment system, proposed at Facebook’s annual developer conference in April. The crypto currency project aims to allow Facebook’s 2.4 billion worldwide users to exchange payments with minimal fees and without the need for a third-party software.
“It’s not that Facebook is evil, which it may or may not be. Facebook hasn’t shown an ability to think through unintended consequences or prevent bad actors from weaponizing its platform.”ScotT Galloway, Marketing Professor at NYU, Author of “The Four”, well-known for his unsparing critiques of influential tech companies
But, while the idea appears to have good intentions behind it, much like many of Zuckerberg’s other ideas, the problems and potential dangers are in the details.
So, the real issue is in how the Libra cryptocurrency project can potentially influence Facebook’s extremely wide global user base in a number of negative ways.
“If 50 percent of Facebook users all of a sudden use this coin, then you potentially have a new reserve currency globally. If you would weaponize a global currency and start monkeying with it, you could have what capitalists fear more than war: a recession–or some sort of a global economic meltdown.”SCOTT GALLOWAY
California Representative Congressman Brad Sherman interrogated Zuckerberg extensively on this topic during the Financial Services Committee Hearing, which illustrated these repercussions specifically.
Brad Shermon eloquently points out a pattern that Zuckerberg struggles to answer. He appears to be attempting to hide behind platitudes of egalitarian ideals in order to avoid accountability for content controlled by his platform.
“…but for the richest man in the world to come here and hide behind the poorest people in the world and say that’s who you are trying to help, you are trying to help those to whom the dollar is not a good currency—drug dealers, terrorists and tax evaders..”Rep. Brad Sherman to Zuckerberg at the House FInancial Services COMmittee Hearing
Cambridge Analytica: AOC cites Facebook’s Biggest Scandal that brought ‘Catastrophic Impact’ to American Democracy in the 2016 Election
But the House Financial Services Committee wasn’t having it, and AOC Exposes Facebook’s Flaws for All to See:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez begins her five-minute interrogation by citing Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal from 2018. Her reasoning is that, before even considering the Libra cryptocurrency issue, it’s important to analyze how Facebook handled Cambridge Analytica because the Libra cryptocurrency project has potential for far worse.
Essentially, AOC gave Zuckerberg a chance to make a case for himself. He had an opportunity to show that he and Facebook are equipped to adequately deal with the repercussions of establishing Libra, and to answer this fundamental question: has Facebook learned from its past mistakes regarding the Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal so that they could take the necessary actions to ensure that data scandals won’t happen again?
Next she asks, what year and month did Zuckerberg first become aware of Cambridge Analytica? He doesn’t remember, but it was probably around March 2018, when the scandal became public.
When did Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg become aware of Cambridge Analytica? Again, Zuckerberg says he doesn’t know, so AOC asks a follow-up question. Did anyone on his leadership team know about Cambridge Analytica prior to when the initial report came from The Guardian on December 11, 2015? Now, for this one, Zuckerberg believes that this was the case and that members of his leadership team were tracking it internally. Additionally, he takes this opportunity and appears to try to avoid responsibility by saying that he was aware of Cambridge Analytica as an entity, but he also wasn’t aware of how they were using Facebook specifically.
When was the issue discussed with his board member Peter Teal? Once again, Zuckerberg proclaims his ignorance, to which AOC iterates that his answers are unacceptable. It is unacceptable that he did not properly discuss the “largest data scandal” with respect to his company that had “catastrophic impacts on the 2016 election.”
While Zuckerberg flaggingly scrambles to defend himself by explaining that they did discuss the issue when it happened, he fails to answer whether Facebook is capable of being accountable for their actions by addressing their mistakes with handling data privacy so that they wouldn’t be repeated. If Facebook truly cared about handling data privacy, then they would have taken extensive measures to address the issue. Maybe then, Zuckerberg would’ve actually remembered enough about the issue to answer AOC’s questions.
Facebook Policy allows Politicians to Pay to Spread Misinformation
Zuckerberg’s seemingly flagrant irresponsibility with regards to handling Facebook leads AOC to confront him on the current hot topic: “Facebook’s official policy to allow politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future.” She demands to know how far this policy could be pushed before Facebook decides to fact-check and take down these posts, because, again, they have the potential to influence the next election directly.
Could politicians enact voter suppression by advertising wrong election date to zip codes with primarily black communities? Zuckerberg vaguely explains that content will be taken down if it were to cause an obvious immediate harm. Okay, but what if it’s not obvious? Will his answer suffice then? The answer is likely no, because infinite ways can be found to dodge this issue, then, once again, and we’re back to square one.
Further she presses him, Could she (AOC) run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal? Zuckerberg is unsure, but answers that she probably could. Elizabeth Warren recently did something similar in her “Zuckerberg Supports Trump” ad.
Does Zuckerberg see the potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements? To that, he appeals to common morals: lying is bad. His logic is that he doesn’t want to prevent constituents from seeing that politicians had lied, which clarifies that Zuckerberg won’t take these ads down.
The problem with this logic is that the general public is assumed to have the ability to differentiate between lies and the truth. But, as this current presidency has proven, many, if not most, people clearly do not.
Thoughts on Zuckerberg’s On-Going Dinner Parties with Far-Right Figures? Debatable, or so he tries to imply.
Further, Zuckerberg’s on-going dinner parties in which he cultivates relationships with known politically far-right figures is also suspicious. After all, there have been numerous times that alt-right entities abused social media platforms in the service of discrimination and hate crimes.
Did Zuckerberg discuss the alleged social media bias against conservatives, and does he believe that this bias exists? Zuckerberg indicated that he couldn’t remember the question or answer it, appearing to want to avoid confirming or denying these associations under oath, so AOC moved on.
Next she asked Zuckerberg to explain why he named the Daily Caller, a publication well-documented to have ties to white supremacists, an official fact-checker for Facebook? Once again, Zuckerberg tries to escape responsibility by saying that they don’t actually appoint independent fact-checkers and that they come from an independent organization called the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) that has rigorous standards for who they allow to serve as a fact-checking entity.
White-supremacist-tied publications meet a rigorous standard for fact-checking? Zuckerberg had no answer, which is again, an indicator that she had pushed him into areas he would prefer to avoid. After research, it turns out that he lied, or at minimum mis-led in his answer on multiple points, First, the (IFCN) have generally “certified” a total of 62 organizations globally, but it is, indeed, Facebook and presumably Zuckerberg personally, that chose the 6 in particular that are Facebook partners.
There’s a Pattern Here: Facebook and other Social Media Platforms Need to be held Accountable
Clearly, Zuckerberg still thinks that he could get by with excuses in an effort to absolve himself from the endless blame that Facebook receives from The Media for meddling with numerous socially-influential affairs.
It’s hard not to notice that while Mr. Zuckerberg has been given many chances to make amends for Facebook’s failures, the opportunity has been for naught, apparently, because his private for-profit company is only interested in maintaining user engagement, which he now claims is in the name of free speech and equality. However, clearly, these cannot actually be achieved without specifically executing processes that address the discriminatory practices.
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