Facebook is Out of Control with Greed and Self Interest

New Orleans      With Facebook and most of the other tech conglomerates it really is no longer a question of adults not being in charge.  They are in fact in charge, but they are irresponsible in caring for their consumers and customers, blinded by greed, self-interest, and self-aggrandizement.   Let’s stop pretending these international, 100 billion dollars plus conglomerates are “doing good,” rather than being profit maximizing companies that warrant the same kind of full-throated regulation and supervision that other powerful economic and social actors should receive in order to protect the community and their consumers.

In the latest in a long running series of disclosures Facebook withheld information that Cambridge Analytics had scrubbed the usage data and information from 50 million users at the service of rightwing political campaigns run by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and current President Donald Trump.  It is impossible that this theft, likely violating a number of state and federal consumer protection laws, as well as a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission swearing Facebook to protect users’ privacy, did not have an impact on the 2016 election for president.  Reports by both the Observer in the Great Britain and The New York Times uncovered this, but also have reported that Facebook knew about this breach for the last two years without saying one solitary word to its customers.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Cambridge Analytics was just another data shop and they all do it.  This was the adopted child of Stephen Bannon and billionaire Rebecca Mercer, who invested millions in the company.  Reports from Channel 4 in the UK, based on a sting where they seemed to be seeking business, has the CEO of this outfit suggesting dirty tricks were readily available from the company including his suggestion that Cambridge would arrange for beautiful Ukrainian sex workers to seduce opposition candidates and secure compromising video.  This rightwing darling was amoral at best.

Additional reports indicate that the head of security at Facebook who until recently ran a 150 plus group to assure user safety had his team shrunk to three people and is now being forced out.  He had lost an argument within the company over the last several years by advocating early on that the Russian interference be exposed publicly to other executives on the business side that wanted the information silenced and have continued to do so even as the scandal has exploded over them and other tech companies for their lack of candor.

Their obsession with protecting the public reputation of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg trumps their responsibility to customers and shareholders as self-interest triumphs.  The basic algorithm at Facebook seems to be that another dollar comes first in their equation and users come last.

Move fast and break this Facebook thing so that it finally puts the users at the top of their concerns.


The Color Barrier for Black Men is Mile High Preventing Equality

New Orleans   An exhaustive study of Census Bureau figures for 20 million people now in their late 30s by researchers from Stanford and Harvard has produced some terrible facts that establish firm proof behind what many have suspected:  race is ubiquitous in oppressing and institutionalizing inequality among African-American men.

As a community organizer, one of the most frightening discoveries of this study is that that this is true in virtually every census track in the country.  In other words, there is no community that is a model.  Among the best might be Silver Springs, Maryland, a Washington suburb, but for the most part the rest of the country discriminates at some level or another constantly in terms of inequality according to the facts of the matter.  Worse, this constant racism reverberates over and over again in other areas as well when it comes to black men.

To draw from the New York Times:

  • Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children.
  • White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.
  • Most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.
  • Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.
  • Black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults.

The results of this discrimination correlate with experiences early in life.  The study also leads to the conclusion that testing does not accurately measure the abilities of black children.  Even when black men were boys they experienced the impact of poverty and discrimination differently than girls.  School discipline is inordinately distributed to black boys and young men rather than other groups.  This level of racism likely impacts employment access as the economy has become more service-based and customer facing than industrial and manufacturing.

The authors of the study believe that the data demands policy solutions that are specifically targeted to the individual and structural racism that impacts black men, and who can disagree.

Professor Kendi of American University nailed the results of this study to the wall, saying, “One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea.  But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”

Likely that’s because of racism itself, Professor.