Facebook takes down a legitimate anti-far-right protest page, calls it "inauthentic"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/02/shut-it-down-dc.html

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We have to acknowledge the FB, while working to give the impression that they’re trying to solve the problem, has no interest in investing the resources and money (and lost right-wing and racist-cousin MAUs) it will take to actually do so. Alex Stamos came to that conclusion and his resignation signals that we should, too.

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I guess the Democratic establishment finds talking about Russian hackers easier than campaigning…

The what?

I hope someone can save us from those dastardly Establishment Demo-Facebook-crats and their enablers.

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It’s just a state propaganda tool for trump, putin and any authoritarian group looking for a piece of the action. We need to dump this bullshit platform but that just seems inconceivable for so many people.

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Of course not. Do you have any idea how much work would be involved? Does anybody? Actual humans would have to examine zigabytes of data and make nuanced decisions that will make everybody’s lawyers happy.

The only conceivable solution is common-carrier status, which requires a certain amount of government oversight; even then, it will oblige Facebook to deliver every message, including the fascist ones. It would turn Facebook into a public utility. The phone company doesn’t get sued if I say horrible things on the phone, does it?

Trouble is, Facebook wants it both ways: freedom from responsibility for censoring your messages, and freedom to earn unlimited profits.

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It seems to me that in this case 30 seconds of Googling the org by a properly trained human moderator would have prevented the takedown and saved them yet more embarrassment concerning their rinky-dink excuse for a content moderation system.

Yes, multiplied by millions of legitimate and bad-faith requests that means a lot of man hours and a lot of money, but that’s one of the prices you pay if you don’t want your international media brand to be considered a cesspool of disinformation and bigotry.

That would be an interesting approach to cut the Gordian Knot but I doubt that FB would be willing to accept the regulation (including anti-trust provisions) that goes along with common-carrier status. As you say, they want to have things both ways.

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flipper

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Well I guess I did it. Went from deactivate to a full delete:

We have received a request to permanently delete your account. Your account has been deactivated from the site and will be permanently deleted within 14 days.

If you did not request to permanently delete your account, please login to Facebook to cancel this request:

https://www.facebook.com/login.php

Thanks, The Facebook Team

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Nicely done. I hope the people in your circle notice and follow your lead.

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First. This is not that. Because the Russian disinformation apparatus has confirmably created protest events with that exact goal in mind. Both on the left and the right. Including anti-fascist events and events purportedly connected to BLM. But most of their connections and most such events are right wing or alt right targeted. And most of the complaints and poking around have focused on that. Rather than the minimal shit stirring in the left.

You yourself have been singing the praises of Democrats campaigning on a $15 minimum wage. And federal minimum wage increases are part of the current DNC platform, with a specific $15 minimum wage being pushed by many DNC members and included in multiple state platforms.

While the national DNCs inability to find a consistent way to pitch the policies they’re pushing and have been pushing is frustrating. That has no bearing on whether “Russian hacking” is a legitimate issue to be concerned about.

As clear as it was from the start. There’s increasing proof that Putin’s little project put Trump in office. And the way they did that is much broader than hacking. It involved those fake political events. Manipulating social media to boot strap conspiracy and propaganda to the for front of election coverage. Spreading around money through special interest group. Effectively manipulating the same fundamental flaws in American elections and media that you yourself seem pretty concerned about.

Stop aping the right’s witch hunt arguement and persecution complex. Even the far right aren’t head hunting for Russian roots in the left due to their periferal involvement with the left. Because thats all directly tied to their bigger, direct involvement on the right. There’s no national level stomping about “fifth columnists” at left wing counter protests. This particular story is about how facebook can’t stop fucking up in exactly the way they fucked up to enable a very real problem.

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Lol, now this:

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I’m of the opinion that this was done intentionally. Facebook has long claimed not to be able to do this task, but they picked a couple dozen pages and loudly trumpeted their efforts. It would have taken one person less than an hour to double check this before putting out press releases. If this had been one page out of hundreds of algorithmically banned pages I would just assume it got caught in the dragnet. It was instead one of a small number that they felt the need to tell us about.

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I’d do the same, but then I’d miss out on my cousin’s MLM essential oils sales pitches and my brother and SIL detailing the potty training regimen they’re putting my niece through.

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They took over a page created by a Russian troll and got rolled up with all of the other sites the trolls created.

Hopefully the organizers learned their lesson to not trust random people on the Internet. It’s going to suck, but they need to remake their page from scratch and not get help from foreign bot armies to boost their initial subscriber counts.

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For a large proportion of bullshit viral posts, the decision needn’t be that nuanced, and I’m not sure who’d be in a position to sue; Facebook writes its own laws as far as its platform is concerned.

As I have said before, any remotely non-toxic version of Facebook will have to take some kind of editorial position, if only “we won’t allow stuff that mainstream society would consider abominable”. That’s still more laissez-faire than any newspaper or TV station has ever been, and they’ve managed not to be burned down by angry mobs.

If their editorial voice turns out to be that of Fox News, good luck to them; they can keep the problematic, demographically unappealing fifth of their current user base, and someone else will provide a home for the larger and more attractive segment of the population who are sickened by that shit.

Because Facebook’s reach is global and it makes few (if any) distinctions about what appropriate content is based on the geographic location of the user, I don’t think it’s even possible for them to settle on a single editorial voice that won’t be out of step with some significant portion of their user base, regardless of where it lands on the socio-political ideology axis. And taking some kind of blind “bad language is bad” approach just leads to further entrenchment of “nice” nazis and white supremacists who call for genocide without using the word “fuck”, while the rest of the world gets banned for telling said people to shove their heads up their own asses.

Breaking the internet back into smaller communities that have the ability to connect with each other on their own terms (that is, managed federation) seems like the only functional way forward. With domain names selling for a few bucks a year and managed hosting solutions for protocols like Mastodon available for just a few bucks a month, I don’t think it’s ever been easier to go do your own thing. Carrying on with these corporate-owned mega-networks is just a recipe for further disaster.

/pshhht/

To make an omelette, ya gotta break a few eggs.

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Uh, FB does exactly that, on a massive scale. That’s basically their whole business model.

Of course, they only do it for messages and content they care about … which is the content and messages which drive revenue into Zuck’s pocket. But that’s probably just a coincidence.

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A rose, by any other name…

Do they really care what people think of them, as long as they still have eyeballs and clicks, and data to sell?

I believe they are more interested in the Wizard of Oz solution:

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You guys sound just as bad as the right wingers a couple months ago that were bitching about algorithmic takedowns that need little more than an authentic complaint from the page organizer and some human eyeballs put to the subject to get put back up.

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