we should stop trusting Facebook, Twitter, TikTok
and Insta - October 24, 202
you havent listened to Facebook whistleblower
Frances Haugens warnings about her former employer,
you should. Her testimony to the US Congress this
month was as compelling as former premier Mike Bairds
appearance last week before the Independent Commission
Against Corruption, which is examining whether Gladys
Berejiklian breached public trust or encouraged corrupt
conduct during her secret relationship with former
Wagga Wagga member Daryl Maguire.
key word in both these cases seems to be secret.
And how keeping something secret can breach our public
a former product manager, quit Facebook earlier this
year and told the congressional hearing that FBs
products were knowingly harming children and fuelling
polarisation. Profits before people was
the ethos of the California-based company when she
worked there, she explained. They knew they were harming
our mental and physical health, particularly that
of our children and most vulnerable, and went ahead
nonetheless. What she revealed was the degree to which
the company willingly preyed on our vulnerabilities
by using tech tools to understand our biases. Without
this week Haugen warned Australian MPs that we should
force the company to reveal the secret internal data
on how it keeps its users engaged. In other words,
addicted. Haugen likened her stance against her former
employer to those who fought Big Tobacco companies
before it was revealed they knew how dangerous their
products were, and yet also put profits over
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerbergs former
speechwriter Kate Losse revealed back in 2018, his
mantra was always Companies over countries.
you want to change the world, the best thing to do
is to build a company, he had said.
Losse and Haugens evidence suggests that, in
Facebook, Zuckerberg has almost created a cult with
more reach than the CIA. Of course, it is not alone.
I hate to think of the amount of information Big Tech
companies such as Google, TikTok, Twitter, Insta,
Pinterest and YouTube have on us.
took myself off Twitter after one too many hacks,
and Im getting close to doing the same with
other social media sites. But will that make a difference?
of us have watched The Social Dilemma, and The Social
Network, and know social media is anything but social.
It is way more anti-social and insidious than we first
if the events of the most recent years, from the pandemic
to the Trump presidency, have taught us anything,
it is that this form of media is the strongest vehicle
there is for disseminating political and public health
misinformation. Research presented in The Social Dilemma
found fake news spread six times faster
than real news. Anyone whose ever worked in a newsroom,
sweating to deliver the truth, will tell you: this
is an alarming trend.
are we to do about it?
understand why we should be angry. A reminder of Haugens
damning evidence: she shared a wad of secret company
documents, including research showing Facebook knew
its sister site Instagram was intensifying body image
and mental health problems among young girls. And
other documents that showed Facebook had failed to
crack down on drug cartels and human traffickers.
The company knows how to make the internet safer,
but refuses to, Congress heard. The lead Republican
on the Senate Commerce Committee, Marsha Blackburn,
was spot on when she labelled Facebooks behaviour
as abuse of customers.
we can write story after story warning people of the
dangers. Most of us know the dangers, yet still we
partake, sending huge profits Big Techs way.
unlike politicians, who we can vote out of office
if we feel they have breached our public trust, how
do we fight back against companies we feel have deceived
us? Especially when theyre based in Silicon
Valley. And why should publishers of legitimate news,
such as this masthead, be liable for defamatory comments
posted to Facebook and other sites about our stories?
these social media sites en masse might send a signal:
their behaviour is not OK. But it wouldnt be
enough. A global investigation is this a job
for the United Nations or the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development might expose the
degree of deception cooked up in their secret war
rooms. All of it, largely unregulated.
Trump has had a whacky idea. Banned from Facebook
and Twitter, he says hell create his own social
maybe thats not such a crazy thought for the
rest of us. We dont need to storm the barricades,
as Trump supporters did on January 6, but could we
mount our own online resistance? The Peoples
Platform. Surely there are some young developers out
there we could recruit to the cause?
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Sydney Morning Herald)