This should all be prefaced with me making perfectly clear that I do not take congressional testimonies seriously as an indication of the intentions or work of lawmakers representing the will of the communities they are supposed to be serving. This has never happened in this country. Bunch of disingenuous bastards…
Mark Zuckerberg outlined Facebook’s plans to use AI and a small army of what will likely be very tired content moderators (20,000, Zuckerberg anticipates) to regulate the content to stop terrorist propaganda and terminate the influence of fake news. Obviously there is going to be some hand-wringing over the loss of first amendment rights of Americans who could be unfairly censored. Coupled with the termination of net neutrality, companies like Facebook regulating information that is exchanged on their social media is certainly some pretty dark prospects. I mean, if you consider the sheer number of people that get their news, memes, etc. from social media, the power of giants like Facebook to manipulate the public is significant.
We know that republican lawmakers are concerned about some sort of “anti-conservative” bias. Without looking much into that story, nobody cares. Or at least, nobody should care. Because the perspective of the peddlers of conservative garbage ideology want to be able to spew their nonsense onto the internet through Facebook and other ways without any context. The act of speaking does not give someone’s message worth. We need to be able to filter things that aren’t true from serious political debate. I mean, Christ, before Facebook we were already having a hard time having serious political discussion in this country. So nobody cares about your token Black commentators Ted Cruz, sit the fuck down. Especially when we know that they weren’t actually “censored” to begin with. It’s just conservatives trying to make themselves victims again.
This is a pretty good sign that Americans need to get smarter. I mean, this Facebook-free speech issue is sort of eliminated if, as mass consumers of information, we do a better job of interrogating our sources and even the quality of our baseline assumptions. I can grant that “fake news” makes being an informed citizen more difficult, but maybe we need to stop asking politicians and companies to do our thinking for us. The information is available with a free and democratically accessible internet. If we protect that, we can honestly say “fuck Facebook” and move on to taking control of our lives. Because we all know that Facebook is a force of darkness anyways. People massaging their own narcissism while participating in a marketing feedback loop that only serves to increase our dependence on definitions of self-worth authored by our corporate masters.
But I don’t want to get caught up on explaining to the reader the reasons Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. should be trashed. Let’s think about other things we learned from the congressional hearings that could be worthwhile.
We watched Zuckerberg get grilled by a congressperson that is actively pushing to increase the regulation of companies like Facebook so that they can distract the public from 1) their own participation in the destruction of net neutrality and 2) how they are trying to advocate for the service providers that have profited from the destruction of net neutrality who lined their pockets with contributions. It’s a shell game. “Look over here at how we’re taking Zuckerberg to task and ignore how AT&T is bribing me to throw you all under the bus!” Because that’s what the campaign contributions of industries are, bribes.
These lawmakers that are affecting outrage over the privacy of users of Facebook are only advocating for their true constituents, the companies that pay them to legislate against the people of this country. (https://thinkprogress.org/republicans-love-deregulating-big-tech-facebook-hearings-30590f171f27/)
For Truthout.org, Mike Ludwig singled out Marsha Blackburn, who not only introduced legislation to repeal FCC privacy rules, but continues to disingenuously pretend to be opposed companies commodifying user privacy while simultaneously pushing legislation that favors her own corporate telecom backers. (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/44142-zuckerberg-grilled-by-same-lawmakers-who-repealed-online-privacy-protections)