Tuesday, May 02, 2017

What is Facebook? The political issue of 2017 ... by gimleteye

As a Facebook adopter for years, I use the social media platform in predictable ways; to be in touch with friends, to share news and memories, and to express my opinions. In the latter respect, Facebook amplifies what I write on this blog.

Friends on Facebook share posts with their friends, and so Facebook is a platform that expands the reach of ideas, previously channeled through the ways of print.

Its daily users far exceed newspapers and broadcast media without borders and in ways where the underlying unit economics are driven by clicks. Facebook, truly, is more like a utility with no cost structure: everyone can tap in freely.

Of course, there is a cost structure: advertisers and investors have flocked to Facebook, turning its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg into one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs on the planet.

The 2016 election, and its aftermath, exposed the major flaw in the Facebook model: it has morphed into an extraordinarily successful, unregulated platform for political activities.

As we noted before, political interests -- mainly coalesced around Donald Trump -- conceived a brilliant plan to channel Trump supporters onto hundreds of Facebook pages in order to amplify the dissemination of information often misleading, false, and intended to stimulate fear and anxiety.

It is also clear that Facebook provided a platform for Russia to meddle in the 2016 election. Russia's disinformation, then and now, closely tracked the same memes, ideas, and communication strategies adopted by the Trump campaign. It is broadly accepted by the intelligence community that Russia used Facebook to amplify its effort to turn the 2016 to Donald Trump.

And so, in aggregate, Facebook is more than a social media platform.

Facebook has responded to criticism -- and invited a public discussion -- of countermeasures to FAKE news. Still, Facebook is the wild, wild West for hateful messaging designed to silo voters who also hear and see similar, nuanced messaging on both conservative radio and broadcast television.

There is nothing new about coordinated political activity. Facebook and other social media outlets -- but Facebook mainly because of its size and scalability -- has a unique challenge: to regulate itself before government decides it is indeed a utility and should be regulated like one.

I respect Facebook's willingness to engage on these issues. Last week, the company issued an extraordinary report offering its views on a constructive framing of its positions.

In the coming days, I'll be writing more on the Facebook and, in the meantime, welcome your thoughts.


Geniusofdespair said...

And who fanned the freakish dislike of Hillary Clinton? Even Democrats had a problem with her. The rise of Obama over her should have told the Democrats something about her viability as a candidate in 2016. Emails became her swift boat combining with her unpopularity with men and women alike. She was like the girl who wanted to be popular in high school. Anyway, the emails fiasco lingered and was kept alive on Facebook her whole campaign. She didn't do anything wrong as much as she was wrong for the presidency.

Anonymous said...

I might be an old fogy, but have little use for Facebook, Every time I read in it, it annoys me to no end with all the chopped up writhing styles every body seems to employ.

Besides, my Day still has only 24 Hours.

Anonymous said...

It is more correct to call it re-echoing of ideas than amplifying, just like religious text that try to reinforce ideas by repeating most often traditions and mythological stories in different forms and stories, Facebook echos ideas (and often fake and mischievous thoughts) until many people re-echo it and it becomes Alternative Fact (belief). It is a very crazy thing.