Facebook Playing Duck-and-Cover, Distraction, and Delay

AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Nashville     Quit Facebook?  How can we?  There are countries ACORN works where Facebook and the internet are synonymous.  We have learned how to use Facebook as an organizing tool in England in recruiting members to the ACORN Tenant Union.  We use it as a communications tool in many of our organizing drives and campaigns.  Facebook is a substitute website for many of our efforts.  We use its calling service between some of our offices because it is better than Skype.  In places like Honduras and many countries in Europe, WhatsApp is as important, and often more useful, than knowing someone’s mobile phone number.  My own family shares information on a separate WhatsApp group for just the four of us.

So, just because we can’t quit, doesn’t mean we like Facebook.  On, no, don’t make that mistake.

Of course, there’s the privacy thing, but we’re fighting guided missiles with toothpicks whether it’s Facebook, Google, Amazon, or the rest of the tech terrors. Unless you’re whispering, forget about it.

Facebook is increasingly standing at the front of the line as the face of the evil empire.  The steady dripping and dropping of bad news about the company and their foot dragging and lame ass excuses for their irresponsible and dissembling conduct is even causing their stock price to drop which may get their attention because it seems to be about the only thing that CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and his number 2 partner Sheryl Sandberg really care about in addition to the profit-and-loss statement.

Now with new revelations in a deeply reported story in the New York Times, about the internal machinations of the company and its efforts to avoid scrutiny, evade responsibility, deflect and harm competitors, and resist regulation, our distrust of the company and its leadership is on steroids.  They hired a Republican, rightwing opposition research company to try to hurt their competitors when they were under attack.  They tried to claim that protestors angry at Facebook’s antics and mismanagement were being paid by George Soros.  They leveraged contributions to defamation groups to claim that protest actions singling out Zuckerberg and Sandberg were anti-Semitic because of their religion rather than their irresponsibility.  They cashiered their security chief for investigating the Russian exploitation of their platform and telling board members the truth about the inadequacy of their effort to stop it.  Sandberg, as supervisor of their political efforts, hired Republican lobbyists and tried to manipulate key Senators and Congressman on both sides of the aisle by shifting positions on certain bills, hiring their staff, and direct contributions and threats.  New York Senator Chuck Schumer was compromised and enlisted in this effort with a child working for Facebook.  Perhaps worse, according to company insiders, Sandberg and Zuckerberg were so concerned about their “brands,” their legacy, and their own personal interests, projects, and ambitions, that they let their self-interest trump the public interest of all of their users.  This is not just mismanagement this is plain and simple terrible and unaccountable leadership.

Need I say, that’s not all.

The long call for grownups in the room is a misdirection pass.  With 2.2 billion users, Facebook is a global force.

For all of our sakes here and around the world, we need to get a grip and regulate this company so that it does no more harm.  We need to see management change and rules put in place, and we need to see it done now.

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Arsonist Destroys ACCE Office in Southern California

New Orleans      Fires all over California have been front-page news.  The town of Paradise became the opposite for many with the death count still rising.    Homes have been obliterated by raging flames, sparing no one including singers and celebrities in Southern California.  Trump has been raging and spouting his flaming and blaming rhetoric in order to avoid coming to grips with the fire this time from climate change.

One fire should have been on front pages and wasn’t.  I started getting messages in the middle of a Saturday night in San Pedro Sula and emailing back and forth trying to find details from friends and comrades around California during the weekend.  The news was terrible, but the reports were nonexistent.  The internet was silent, yet the message was clear:  an office of ACCE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the former California ACORN, had been destroyed by arsonists over the weekend.  It took a while to track down the details, but this was the Chula Vista office in San Diego County, halfway between San Diego and the Mexican border.  Fortunately, there were no injuries, but the office was literally a meltdown.

The best account of the details was finally available in an article by Doug Porter in the San Diego Free Press.  Police were unequivocal that the fire was arson.  There had seemed little doubt that it was in retaliation to the organization’s work.  A pile of ACCE t-shirts were  burned on the grass in front of the office.  Porter, and many others, speculate that the outburst was triggered by the well-publicized leadership that ACCE recently played in bringing an amendment to the statewide ballot that would have expanded rent control options around state.  The measure was opposed in a wildly expensive campaign by the real estate interests and some state mayors beholding to them, as well as governor-elect Gavin Newsom, despite the rental crisis for lower income and working families.  The measure was defeated by almost 2 to 1.  Perhaps more immediately the anger might have been provoked by Proposition W on the National City ballot, a city cheek-to-jowl with Chula Vista and largely staffed and supported by that office, that would have limited rent increases to the same level as the Consumer Price Index and capped annual hikes at no more than 5%.  “W” lost narrowly.

No matter, this was an attempt at organizational assassination.  Spokespeople for the organization stood tall and argued sternly that their commitment to the work would continue.  The silence from others who should be standing against this attack and in support of ACCE and community organizing was as tragic.

Police have now arrested a 28-year old homeless man who was in a dispute with the property’s management, discounting some of the earlier more political arguments, even though homelessness is itself a political issue that also ensnares community organizations like ACCE.

In the wake of the arrest, the organization has released the following statement:

“Given the information that we had and the political moment that we are in, many of us feared that the attack was politically motivated.  We are relieved to hear that this wasn’t the case.  We note with regret that the arsonist was an unhoused person. The sad irony is that ACCE fights for housing rights. No one should have to suffer from acts of violence like this one. And no one should be subject to the challenges that the most vulnerable sections of our society face as a result of the housing crisis.”

This doesn’t settle the matter.  The harm is done and continues.   ACCE is raising funds to re-open their office at: https://www.acceaction.org/donate.  The bricks-and-sticks don’t matter, the work must continue.  The silence must be met by the roar of peoples’ protest, if these random and targeted acts of violence are ever to be stopped.

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Please enjoy FTK Feed the Kid’s Achilles Heel.

Thanks to KABF.

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