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General News    H3'ed 11/26/19

Mark Zuckerberg's Clandestine Meeting With Trump

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Last year, news broke about evidence confirming Russian buyers used Facebook advertising as propaganda leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

In response, Facebook presented Congress 3,000 Russian-purchased ads through 470 phony pages and accounts intended to exploit America's racial divisions.

Facebook said at least $100,000 was spent for this purpose, a mere fraction of its political advertising during the 2016 campaign.

This motivated the House Intelligence Committee last November to release a sample of Facebook ads the Russian government-affiliated Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg troll farm, purchased about issues like immigration, religion, and race, for and against presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, and Donald Trump.

More than 11 million people between 2015 and 2017 viewed these ads.

Moreover, Russia used Facebook ads to help Trump win Michigan and Wisconsin.

Then last month, Facebook changed its advertising policies so it will now no longer fact-check political ads, welcoming campaigns to promulgate blatant lies.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued in an Oct. 17 speech at Georgetown University it is voters, not tech companies, who should be the arbiters of politicians' arguments.

This sounds valid, and even somewhat altruistic--until we uncover some interesting business Zuckerberg has been conducting.

Around the time of his Georgetown speech, Zuckerberg attended two private dinner meetings with Donald Trump at the White House.

NBC broke the story about the previously undisclosed second meeting that occurred when the Facebook CEO was defending the new ad policy before Congress.

Also present at the second dinner was conservative Donald Trump donor Peter Thiel, chairman of data technology company Palantir, donated $1.25 million to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and occupies a position on Facebook's board of directors.

But Trump is not the only right-wing figure with whom Mark Zuckerberg has met recently. He also met with conservative journalists and politicians, and asserts following other sites' and networks' rules regarding political ads' removal, no matter how mendacious, violates "free speech."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced Twitter will ban all political advertising.

Ironically, to test Facebook's new rules, Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren tweeted the following:

"We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims and submitted it to Facebook's ad platform to see if it'd be approved. It got approved quickly and the ad is now running on Facebook."

Even though the ad's claim Mark Zuckerberg endorsed Donald Trump is false, Zuckerberg's clandestine meetings with Trump cause speculation about how insightful Warren's deliberately phony post is.

Since the September 18 Ukraine call whistle-blower story broke, Donald Trump's re-election campaign has featured Facebook 5,883 ads.

But it is not the only pro-Trump entity taking advantage of Facebook's coziness with the president.

White nationalist and Holocaust deniers' posts are proliferating.

Facebook is doing nothing about them.

Heidi Beirich, the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) Intelligence Project director, stated:

"It's not even up for debate. There's really no excuse for not removing this material."

Despite Facebook's assertion that "hate speech has no space," the company--even when altered to their activity--permitted more than 160 pages of SPLC-identified hate groups to continue.

May 2018, Vice News' Motherboard reported on internal Facebook training documents proving the company was parsing white supremacy and white nationalism, which it ultimately decided to allow.

During a July 2018 interview, Mark Zuckerberg defended Holocaust denial, saying he did not "think that they're intentionally getting it wrong."

He later retracted this following outcry.

Finally this past March, Facebook admitted white nationalism "cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups," and decided to enact a ban.

Like it or not, social media is going to play an even more prominent role in 2020 and future elections--and society.

Now we know where Facebook stands in the equation.

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)

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