by Matthew Vadum
Social media website rejiggers the rules to rob Trump of almost half of his online traffic.
Social media behemoth Facebook launched a full-scale assault on President Donald Trump and conservatives earlier this year that has seen engagement on Trump’s Facebook posts plummet by 45 percent.
The crackdown on conservatives and the Republican Party’s standard-bearer came after a year of unyielding pressure from the mainstream media, politicians, and Facebook employees after President Trump’s stunning electoral upset in November 2016. The Left’s farfetched Russia-Trump electoral collusion conspiracy theory scapegoated Facebook, claiming the website spread Russian propaganda and fake news that helped Trump beat the yet-to-be-indicted Hillary Clinton.
No less a personage from the anti-Trump resistance movement than former President Barack Obama lobbied Facebook’s CEO to play rough and dirty with conservatives. At a poverty conference in South America a few days after the 2016 vote, Obama leaned on a then-skeptical Mark Zuckerberg to do something, presumably to help take his fingerprints off the electoral collusion hoax.
As the Washington Post reported:
Nine days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “crazy” the idea that fake news on his company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election, President Barack Obama pulled the youthful tech billionaire aside and delivered what he hoped would be a wake-up call.Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was one of the lawmakers who openly threatened Facebook.
For months leading up to the vote, Obama and his top aides quietly agonized over how to respond to Russia’s brazen intervention on behalf of the Donald Trump campaign without making matters worse. …Now huddled in a private room on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in Lima, Peru, two months before Trump’s inauguration, Obama made a personal appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously, although Facebook representatives say the president did not single out Russia specifically. Unless Facebook and the government did more to address the threat, Obama warned, it would only get worse in the next presidential race.
“You’ve created these platforms, and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it … or we will.”
Although Zuckerberg made plans to hire thousands of content-reviewers, his capitulation still wasn’t complete.
As Karin McQuillan writes at American Thinker:
At first, Zuckerberg was impervious to the hysteria that fake news and Russian bots on Facebook had thrown the election to Trump. He knew it was nonsense, because he’s a numbers and data guy, and the reach of Russian accounts was pitiful.These Russians supposedly turned Rust Belt states into Trump country for a pittance.
Russian interference generated 129 real-world events that drew 340,000 Facebook users. If we look at the number of mobile active Facebook users for December 2016, we see that there were 1.74 billion. Thus, the Russians commandeered 0.000195402% of the Facebook users for that one month.
They reportedly spent a grand total of $1,979 on Facebook ads to supposedly swing Democrat-blue Wisconsin to Trump, according to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.). They spent $823 in Michigan and just $300 in Pennsylvania.
The Russians’ money covered "about four-thousands of one percent (0.004%) of content in News Feed, or approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content," Facebook Vice President and General Counsel Colin Stretch said in a prepared statement for a Senate panel last November.
Zuckerberg’s comment that it was “crazy” to think fake news on Facebook was a significant factor in Trump’s election was not well-received by Facebook employees, the media, and the big players in Silicon Valley.
“What he said was incredibly damaging,” a former Facebook executive reportedly told Wired. “We had to really flip him on that. We realized that if we didn’t, the company was going to start heading down this pariah path that Uber was on.”
“After the election, because Trump won, the media put a ton of attention on fake news and just started hammering us. People started panicking and getting afraid that regulation was coming. …and we decided to figure out how we could put together our own packaged program that shows how seriously we take the future of news.”
When Zuckerberg eventually caved, he offered a nonsensical justification for turning over Facebook’s newsfeeds to censors, left-wing activists, and the various left-wing fact-checking websites that pretend to be fair and balanced.
We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That's why we've always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness. But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.Got that? Zuckerberg is infantilizing Facebook’s users whom he apparently believes are too dumb to consume news without his helping hand.
In McQuillan’s estimation, Obama’s intervention was decisive in getting Facebook onboard with the Left’s program. The company’s business model held that the website was a platform for users, not a provider of content, something over which Facebook had no control or responsibility.
Pamela Geller got fed up with being blocked and sued. A gun range owner was blocked after the Orlando shooting for offering free self-defense classes to LGBT. Pro-life crowdfunding a movie on Roe v. Wade was blocked, as were dozens of conservative Catholic websites. But these forays into censorship of conservatives were isolated, and often reversed with claims they had been done by mistake.Financial pressure has come from an obnoxious European mega-corporation co-headquartered in London and Rotterdam.
The second largest advertiser in the world, the multinational consumer-good conglomerate Unilever, has threatened to pull its ads from Facebook and Google if the platforms don’t crack down on content the company deems unreliable. "We cannot have an environment where our consumers don't trust what they see online," Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed reportedly said. Concern-trolling, he added that digital media firms have to act before "advertisers stop advertising."
"It is acutely clear from the groundswell of consumer voices over recent months that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of digital on wellbeing, on democracy – and on truth itself," Weed said, according to the BBC.
Specifically, the Social Justice Warriors at Unilever have pledged to:
Not invest in platforms that do not protect children or create division in societyBut as McQuillan sees things, it took Obama to push Facebook over the edge into glaringly obvious partisanship and intolerance.
Only invest in platforms that make a positive contribution to society
Tackle gender stereotypes in advertising
Only partner with companies creating a responsible digital infrastructure
Americans learned last year that a George Soros-funded hate site with ties to Hillary Clinton works with Facebook to censor its users’ newsfeeds.
Conservatives had already been complaining for years that Facebook deliberately de-emphasized and in some cases suppressed right-leaning voices, “a theory that could be fueled by the social media network’s ties to Media Matters, among the harshest critics of conservative figures and ideas,” the Washington Free Beacon reported at the time.
MMfA has glommed on to the Left’s current obsession with so-called fake news, “a loosely defined category of misinformation that has been invoked to attack everything from Russian propaganda efforts to political blogs deemed factually dubious.”
MMfA’s visceral contempt for the First Amendment’s speech protections was emphasized in a dossier it prepared for deep-pocketed leftists that the WFB obtained.
The document stated that the so-called alt-right "specializes in harassment and abuse and distinguishes itself from traditional right-wing media by its ability to self-organize.”
Without offering proof, the brief smeared such media outlets by making the ridiculous claim that they “operate on the edge of the law.” The document also smeared people in the alt-right movement as dimwitted bigots, claiming its “membership consists of weak individuals, often recruited into the movement because they fear or resent women and/or harbor racial animosity."
The digital reign of terror that Zuckerberg, an open-borders left-winger who supports Black Lives Matter, recently unleashed on those whose views he disagrees with consisted of a change in the newsfeed algorithm for the third-most visited website in the world. The algorithm selects which stories show up in each user’s newsfeed on the site, which has an estimated 2 billion monthly users. For those who don’t speak computer, Merriam-Webster defines algorithm as “broadly: a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer.”
The newsfeed algorithm isn’t some omniscient, politically neutral computer program that somehow randomly or objectively selects what to highlight in newsfeeds. It is controlled by flesh-and-blood human beings in Silicon Valley, a hotbed of leftism. If they change the variables or inputs in an algorithm, they change the results it generates.
As a for-profit business, Facebook can do whatever it wants, subject to its users’ and advertisers’ tolerance for its censorship and other left-wing shenanigans. Users could presumably cripple Facebook by ceasing to use it. That is not likely to happen anytime soon.
An antitrust investigation could still bring Facebook to heel, assuming the political will exists.
But that’s a pretty big assumption.
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Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.