Shaun King: We Need To Put Pressure On Facebook

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This morning I need us to have a tough conversation about Facebook

I use Facebook. I’ve been on Facebook for nearly 15 years. I use it for my businesses, for many of the charities and campaigns that I manage. I also use Instagram – which is owned by Facebook – and many of you follow me there. It’s probably my most engaged audience. I also use WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. 

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerburg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, testified before Congress and was grilled on at least two different things that have me deeply concerned for our listeners, for our families, for our elections, and for the future of this country. 

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As you already know, it’s campaign season – not just for the Democratic primaries, for the presidential election, but across the country thousands of elections are going down – for congressional races, for Senate seats, for state Senate seats, for governorships, and everything in between – and one of the main ways candidates and campaigns reach voters is through Facebook. Not millions, but billions of people across the world use Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Billions. More than any other single company in the world. 

And campaigns, from the presidential campaigns on down, use Facebook to sway voters. And as you may recall, in the 2016 election, the Mueller Report determined that Russia and other countries had widespread election interference, and that one of the main ways foreign governments influenced our elections was on Facebook – through Facebook ads, Facebook groups and pages, even fake Facebook events – and guess who their #1 target audience was?

Not Trump voters. Not conservatives. Not white liberals. Their #1 target was Black voters. For two reasons – first and foremost  – they knew that if they could sway just a tiny percentage us that Democrats just won’t win – period. Democrats can’t win anything without us. Secondly, they knew that we are particularly vulnerable to BS online. I hate to say it but we fall for foolishness day in and day out – and they used social media to spread BS non stop. 

And they exploited Facebook to do that.

Well, you’d think that Facebook would be putting in place new measures not only to protect us, but to protect our elections – instead they are doing the exact opposite. 

We learned last month that it is now the official Facebook policy to allow political campaigns to post knowingly false ads. They can be completely false – nothing but lies. A campaign is allowed to pour millions of dollars into ads that lie about other campaigns and candidates, lie about their own race, and deliberately mislead voters. 

And when they are pressed on why in the world they are allowing political campaigns to post knowingly false advertisements, they keep saying that it’s for free speech, and even had the nerve, the gall, to say that Dr. King loved free speech – which forced his daughter, Berniece, to come out and say that it was actually the very environment that Facebook is now allowing that lead to her father murdered. It was the environment where lies and propaganda about Dr. King were allowed to spread that caused so much hate to rise up – and she blasted Facebook for suggesting that Dr. King would basically love Facebook allowing knowingly false ads because he loved free speech. 

Let me clear – this is a money grab. It’s not about free speech. Facebook makes its money off of ads and they don’t want to do anything to interfere with their bottom line. This is ALL about money and it’s going to jam us up. These ads are going to be used to negatively target Black voters with lies and garbage. 

And yesterday, Congresswomen like Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez grilled Mark Zuckerberg on this and he had nothing at all of substance to say. He looked like a damn fool. 

And I’ll close with this – Cortez also grilled Zuckerberg on the fact that he has been having dinners and meetings with ultra conservatives and white supremacists – and has now even allowed a white supremacist media organization, The Daily Caller, to be one of their fact checkers – which is astounding – and he had absolutely nothing. He didn’t deny it even a little. 

We are going to have to put more pressure on this company to do right by us. Because right now, he’s not doing anything at all – and I can already see how Facebook is going to be used in the worst ways to target us. 

 

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