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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Strategies for Dealing with Privacy as a Lost Cause

New Orleans     As Facebook slips off its pedestal of pretense and posturing about its contribution to the common good that has disguised its brutal capitalist commitments and real priorities, it’s worth wondering if claims to protect consumers’ privacy are just more empty promises.  Personal privacy may be just a lost cause and a battle engaged too late.  Many of us use Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Amazon and the rest for work, so we’re simply stuck in the muck of social media:  we can’t get out, so we’re hoping it doesn’t pull us under.

There may be some strategies though.

We could ask the European Union to regulate these companies.  They seem better at it.  In the United States, there’s too much “oh, gee!” and too little “oh my god” from politicians and potential regulators.  Asking the EU to do the job would be cheaper.  We could just enter a “me, too” agreement.  What’s good for them, would be great for us.

One of the priceless ironies is the intramural dispute between Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook over regulation.  Cook is saying it may be needed now even while he hedges with language about “careful crafting,” which is usually a euphemism for allowing lobbyists to write the regs.  But, look, Apple has to be the most consumer indifferent company in Silicon Valley.  Inexplicably, passwords won’t work.  They control obsolescence by weakening I-Phone batteries.  They jack their prices to try to make their products luxury items around the world.  They believe in privacy so much that they block you from their products after you buy them!

If we can’t go Euro, some people have embraced alter egos and misinformation.  There was an article where Facebook was complaining that saying you were 113 years old for example messed with their algorithms.  Their whine seems to be a mandate to try this strategy.  Monkey-wrenching their algorithms sounds like a way to go to the heart of the beast and get their attention for real!

Multiple identities are anther prospect many have used.  Some are fabricated.  Others use middle names, nicknames, maiden names, nom de guerres, or whatever in order to participate, but to create their own bubble around their privacy.  Facebook claims you can’t have two accounts, but, hey, people are doing it everywhere, so don’t tell me with 2 billion users or the recent headlines that they are on top of their business, ok?

Or, another way you can protect yourself on Facebook, which many young people are doing, is simply never join.  Of course, when they go Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, they defeat the purpose, but the Facebook growth engine is not being fueled by young people in the West, but by new users around the world.

Some of these strategies might work, but believing we still have privacy in the modern world of the internet and social media, come on, really?  If you do, please contact me, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn that I think would be a perfect purchase for you.  Message me on the FB!

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