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Best Web OpEds    H1'ed 5/11/19

It's Time to Break Up Facebook

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Since 2017 Mark Zuckerberg's personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. An era of accountability for Facebook and other monopolies may be beginning. Collective anger is growing, and a new cohort of leaders has begun to emerge. Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can.
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.

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8 people are discussing this page, with 17 comments  Post Comment


Devil's Advocate

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You can't "fix" Facebook.

That's like asking for a "regime change". You can't expect to change the "politics" of this company. The business model it was built on will persist.

As long as enough people continue to use Facebook, and allow Facebook to track everything inside and outside of Facebook, they are enabling the power that Facebook has on the landscape. In this way, everyone is literally constructing their own censorship and control mechanism.

As long as Facebook remains big, government will continue to co-opt them, and Facebook will continue to selectively censor that which "the offical collective" doesn't like.

There's already too many government "think tanks" with their hooks into Facebook now. These "watchdog groups" wouldn't even be able to launch such a mission if Facebook wasn't in control of so many UNPROTECTED voices.

You can't fix Facebook... but you can SINK it! Just stop using it! Stop allowing their trackers access to your devices. If enough people did that, Facebook would fade into oblivion.

Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 5:03:19 PM

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Reply to Devil's Advocate:   New Content

Perhaps the term is "obliterate."

Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 6:57:30 PM

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There are a whole lot of major platforms that should be broken up, that own way too many companies.

Facebook owns instagram and whatsapp, Oculus, Friendfeed, and literally thousands of companies and subsidiaries throughout the world.


Amazon owns IMDB, ABEBooks, Zappos, Goodreads, Audible, to name a few.


Google or Alphabet owns: Youtube, Gmail,Drive, Zagats, Nest, Hangouts, Blogger


Apple Owns iTunes, Shazam, Emagic, Siri, Beats, Next-- and about 100 more.


Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 6:12:18 PM

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I agree that companies should never have been allowed to achieve the kinds of huge monopolies they enjoy today. The same goes for the conglomerates that make up today's broadcast and printed "media". It's a literal corporate dictatorship - no argument there.

Having said that, once these companies have achieved that kind of behemoth status, how can you possibly expect to "fix" the problem, without pulling out the support of those companies, and letting them die, and putting that support into better alternatives??

The present internet giants could, hypothetically, be "split up", but they'll never change how they operate. And, they'll use every business loophole necessary to maintain their agenda. It would achieve nothing.

Things like Facebook should be regarded as a "lesson to be learned". It all seemed like a very nice idea in the beginning, until we saw how our personal info and the content we allowed them to have in their domain became not only a means for them to get obscenely rich, but a weapon to be used against us.

We should never have allowed this. Those who didn't know that at the time should be seeing it now. It's time to control our own content, and stop sharing our personal data. It's time to adopt decentralized and encrypted services.

The argument couldn't be clearer.

Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 6:48:50 PM

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"Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can."

I'm sorry, but this statement is extremely misguided.

Government interference is a large part of why Facebook is broken. It also serves as its own demonstration of HOW Facebook was already broken, by design.

It's not rocket science. You allowed a company to possess and freely share your personal data with absolutely EVERYONE. Regardless of what you THINK they weren't doing with it, this is exactly what they've been doing all along. And you allowed them to track everything you did, not only inside, but outside of Facebook, and share THAT with EVERYONE.

And, you allowed much of your "world" to be housed inside this Facebook "bubble". All these unprotected voices, funneled into a narrow corridor on the internet, ready for censorship, and Facebook holding all the keys. What could possibly go wrong with something like that?!

Facebook was already broken BY DESIGN, and government stepped in to take advantage of what was broken. Today's government is broken, by design, as well.

Government's not going to "fix" anything here. They're loving the current state of social media, and are working to tighten their grip on the information stream. You see the government "think tanks" pulling the levers of censorship, and Facebook responding.

Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 7:36:06 PM

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Stephen Fox

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I don't agree at all.


First, of all, only by using anti-trust statutes, has the US ever been able to "break up" any corporation.


Secondly, I don't think it is warranted. On just one level, Facebook is a valuable part of progressive American politics. The Facebook Russian BS was in fact minuscule and not even remotely effective in changing any votes


3rd, just because of a plummeting reputation is not enough rationale nor legal basis for breaking up any corporation. That is not even logical; like kicking an injured dog or beating a struggling horse.


Yours is a draconian solution which, incidentally, would never see the light of day in a court room, or for that matter, in either House of Congress! Sorry to have to be so blunt.


I do think there needs to be more regulation of Facebook, an "evolutionary fine tuning," if you will, but again, that falls very far short of the "obliteration" of which you speak.



25 ADVANTAGES of SOCIAL MEDIA That Are Good To Keep In Mind Social Media is everywhere. Not being connected via social media is the exception, not the rule. While there are many debates, complaints, and legitimate ...
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Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 8:43:48 PM

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I agree, it's unrealistic to expect Facebook to be "split up". That said...

"...Facebook is a valuable part of progressive American politics."

Disagree. SOCIAL MEDIA is what is extremely valuable. Facebook is merely one platform for social media, but Facebook has proven it is literally not a suitable arena for a proper social media scene. Instead of being a conduit for public discussion, it is now blocking the free flow of ideas.

Social media will survive, but not through Facebook.

Facebook has encouraged over half the world's population to use them, only to start telling everyone what is "acceptable" speech. That extends beyond "private company privilege" - it's a direct attack on your 1st Amendment. And, having these government think tanks who are "writing the rules" masquerading as "third parties" only reinforces the fact that it's government censorship.

Facebook has nothing to do with "progressive" anything, let alone politics.

"...there needs to be more regulation of Facebook..."

Regulation by whom? Government?!

Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 10:20:57 PM

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Reply to Devil's Advocate:   New Content
You might not comprehend that many, including me, send articles out VOLUNTARILY to as many people as we want and have time to share them to.


Further, my radical/progressive/liberal/consumer protectionist ideas end up in OEN articles, which I routinely send to 1.2 million people every time I have a good one, because that is what the sum total of the big groups is with whom I regularly share. Because you haven't and wouldn't do that, you would say something like "Facebook has nothing to do with "progressive" anything, let alone politics."


Bob Dylan said in a song: "You will end peeking through a keyhole down upon your knees."


Facebook works for me, not perfectly, and I can see the need for some regulation, but what that translates to in terms of legislative bills is up to the legislators.


I think one serious case perhaps brought by the ACLU would put an end to my chief gripe, and that is FACEBOOK JAIL. Those who have experienced it even once, relate to it as a total abrogation of the First Amendment, but that is not resolved by legislative action as much as it would be resolved by one smoldering hot court case.


Facebook Jail Explained On my October 2016 Disney Trip I wound up in Facebook Jail! Don't let it happen to you. :P Don't miss a moment of the magic: ...
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Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 5:32:22 AM

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Reply to Stephen Fox:   New Content

"You might not comprehend that..."

"Because you haven't and wouldn't do that..."

"You will end peeking through a keyhole down upon your knees."

The steady condescension in your replies is as astonishing as it is uncalled-for. Regardless, I'm going to tell you a tiny bit about myself...

I was working for a very prominent computer company since the days before even Windows came out. As a tech, I was on the inside of the development of the Internet, along with being one of the first to use and set up things like Windows, Mac OS, Unix, laser printers, networks, etc.

I was also among the first wave of "desktop publishers". So I not only wrote, but designed and published, to paper, and to the WWW, along with producing websites.

When data mining first began, I predicted the very censorship and spying fiasco we're all talking about now. Because I knew it was wrong then, and exactly why it was wrong. I knew it would threaten many good things that the Internet would certainly bring, and likely threaten people's very well-being or even their safety.

The fact that you, specifically, are not being interfered with or not ending up in some permanent Facebook "Jail" has no bearing on this conversation. It only illustrates how you don't see past your own needs, and still think Facebook is perfectly "fixable". You have consistently refused to believe in the government conspiracy component here, so, of course, those who know better must be berated.

I also know the next step in the process, and that Facebook will simply not be a part of it. The interesting thing is I've never actually said or implied you should stop doing what you're doing - only that you're going to need a backup plan down the road, if you intend to continue.

Unless you somehow know something the people in my field don't. (You seem to poo-poo everything I'm saying about this stuff, as if you do.)

Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 6:40:45 AM

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Reply to Devil's Advocate:   New Content
Well, sorry. My argument is not with you at all, but with the utter naivete (not directed to your views at all, actually) inherent in going beyond merely expressing an OPINION that Facebook should be broken up. This kind of opinion is fine but it is usually espoused by people with little real power to change anything.


As the statutes are now, that would be impossible, and I am certain it would never get through the first congressional committee in which it is heard.


However, you needn't find fault with the many who doubt (or don't believe at all) the vantage point that you have frequently espoused, that there is any kind of "government conspiracy component" here in play. Those are words directly quoted from your prior comment.


You have indeed several times suggested that progressive people dump Facebook altogether, to which I again counter: "I use Facebook to spread around my writings through sharing to large groups."


So in that case, I will accept the bathwater with the baby, rather than throw it all out.


Of all of the entities in America that truly need to be fixed, I can think of at least twenty that would be higher on the imperative list. For example, to start:



GLYPHOSATE IN YOUR FOOD and HOW TO COUNTER IT!! Monsanto invented the herbicide glyphosate and brought it to market under the trade name Roundup in 1974, after DDT was banned. But it wasn't until the late ...
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Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 1:40:33 PM

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"You have indeed several times suggested that progressive people dump Facebook altogether..."

Yes, that is PART of something I keep saying. You didn't quote the whole suggestion, which included moving what you do on Facebook to another platform that is not vulnerable to the same usurpations.

In other words, I didn't suggest you have to stop doing what you do. I'm only pointing at the platform itself, which is clearly compromised.

"I use Facebook to spread around my writings through sharing to large groups."

I'm not sure how this is a "counter" to what I have said. You're doing what many are doing, and that is what needs to continue. My whole message is that, at the very least, there will need to be a "Plan B", should your platform become threatened or unavailable.

For instance, what if Bayer/Monsanto decides they've had enough with the negative reporting on RoundUp, and starts getting all their well-connected buddies to remove everyone who's talking about it, and put them in "Alex Jones Land"? Those on Facebook (and others) would lose their platform. (Throwing out your bathwater for you, and the baby along with it.)

In such a case, those using something like "Minds" wouldn't experience this, for all the reasons I have been spewing about, and their messages would continue, along with their audiences.

"...you needn't find fault with the many who doubt (or don't believe at all) ...that there is any kind of "government conspiracy component"..."

By their own words, Facebook, the government, and the various "third parties" hooked into Facebook by government have all TOLD US what they're doing. It's no longer a matter of believing people like me - it's simply a matter of whether you're paying attention.

The only ones I place any judgment on at this point are those who continue to blindly argue that there's no government interference going on, since the cat has already been out of the bag for some time. It's been held up in our faces.

It's because I want to see the free flow of information continue that I bother to have these chats at all. I'm actually on your side, the side that wants to see people informed. Not just today, but always. The only way that will continue is if everyone is properly aware of the massive censorship regime before them, and prepared to do something to circumvent it.

Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 5:34:05 PM

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It could really serve mankind as a good public-privately owned utility. (He has certainly all the money he and family would need for 1000 years.) But we go there we gotta do same for TV. My thoughts on that would be run TV and cable at local elected levels with profits paying to run cities, states and towns. That all would take a lot of input from lots of others.

Submitted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 10:18:15 PM

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I agree with DA. This isn't a problem of "anti-trust". This kind of social media is a natural monopoly, because people join tof the purpose of being connected, so the bigger it is, the more people it will attract.


Instead of breaking it up, it has to be heavily regulated. No spying. No addictive hooks that manipulate people into wasting time. This is probably not feasible politically, but it's the right thing to work toward.

Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 3:54:34 AM

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Reply to Josh Mitteldorf:   New Content

You're getting to the problem I outlined above.

It's not a question of "political feasibility", but one of "agenda". Facebook can't stop spying because it's a key component of their business model. If they couldn't datamine everyone (and share the results), they'd fall down completely.

The other snag in the regulation approach is, you'd be asking the government to interfere even more than they already are now. That's like asking for unfettered censorship. Not a good wish.

It couldn't be clearer to me, and people like me who know how this "internet thing" works - it's time to move on to a different model of social networking. Facebook's done. It had a good run. It actually lasted longer than many of us in the real tech industry had predicted when it came out.

Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 5:35:19 AM

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Reply to Josh Mitteldorf:   New Content
"Anti trust" is not some nebulous concept to be batted around by armchair pundits or different cheering sections at a Semantics game; the term refers to the statutes which could potentially govern "breaking up" any corporation, in essence, and the grounds to do so are simply not there legally nor jurisprudentially. Anti Trust statutes have not been used for a long time to do that.


Maybe this short video will clarify it for readers:


The Sherman Anti-Trust Act Explained: US History Review With the Time Warner - Comcast merger knowing the basics to the Sherman Anti-Trust is essential. Non patronizing, fun and focused, let HipHughes help you ...
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Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 7:54:26 PM

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Google has become a menace to our elections far more powerful than any Russian group.

What's happened to OpEdNews is my item #1.

Before we got DELISTED, there were typically 5-10 comments on all the articles at a minimum. Some ran over a hundred. The content seems as high a quality as ever, many thanks to all the amazing writers contributing. But the comment stream suggests far fewer voters are being exposed.

Most articles now sit for days with no comments. This must be very discouraging to the author. Our sort of serious open discussion is rare and it helps lead to an informed electorate. That's at the heart of Democracy, free expression in a public arena, it's simple.

That America can no longer easily find OpEdNews is an interference with our elections from an American excessively private enterprise. No Russians are involved.

I don't know what's to be done. I do know it's good to look at a problem from ones local point of view, see how it impacts oneself first. Accurately identifying a problem is half the solution.

Submitted on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 3:58:46 PM

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Anyone notice the deception? This is part of a false-flag operation to direct you away from the most sinister manipulation. Tech orgs are selling YOU to their for private profit. (manipulating placement of the "news" to shift public opinion). They make didly form their ads - the real money is in paid opinion shaping. This story provides "cover" for their continued manipulation of YOU. Search for political info on both Google and DuckDuckgo and the results are QUITE different. For more details watch "The creepy line".

Submitted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 2:27:06 PM

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