Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Facebook: How Transparency Of FB Pages Could Solve The Problem Of Unregulated Political Activities ... by gimleteye

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The UK Guardian reports this morning:
A tool exposing how voters are targeted with tailored propaganda on Facebookhas been launched in response to what is likely to be the most extensive social media campaign in general election history.
Experts in digital campaigning, including an adviser to Labour in 2015, have designed a program to allow voters to shine a light into what they describe as “a dark, unregulated corner of our political campaigns”.
The free software, called Who Targets Me?, can be added to a Google Chrome browser and will allow voters to track how the main parties insert political messages into their Facebook feeds calibrated to appeal on the basis of personal information they have already made public online. 
This is a terrific advancement, although an independent one. Facebook could incorporate a similar feature to address criticism that it is more than a social media platform: Facebook is an agency for unregulated political activities.

Mapping tools are ubiquitous on the web. They can instantaneously disclose the neural networks of people, of issues, and virtually any fact with a shared theme.

Click here for an interesting example of one map.

Facebook could incorporate such a tool through a hyperlink on every page that is being used as a political gathering and recruiting spot -- including those with purportedly religious themes. The purpose of the tool would be three-fold: 1) to identify the user who created the page, including ISP address, and 2) to provide an instant map of all pages that "shared" the same post and 3) provide a cloud feature showing the network of inter-connected pages, labeled by themes, sources, or other data.

The purpose: full disclosure.

The point: hundreds of millions of Facebook users are recruited to "like" and to "share" pages based on individual preferences. There is nothing wrong with that. Individual preferences are at the heart of free expression.

But when Facebook pages are being organized for patently political purposes, to drive similar messages and to recruit -- ultimately -- voters, the host of those pages, Facebook, has crossed the line into political activity.

Facebook, rather that risking government regulation, should voluntarily undertake to make the sources of political activities as transparent as possible for users. It should provide a mapping feature on each Facebook page involving a meme, a political or religious activity.

With a click or two, users can then be educated about the who, what, and why of political Facebook pages -- drawing their own conclusions should they want to do so.

In the coming days, I will be writing more about Facebook and welcome readers comments.

1 comment:

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