Choices that some make

We all have this. We make choices and that is not against anyone (or anything for that matter). So I was a bit on the fence when I saw ‘Frances Haugen takes on Facebook: the making of a modern US hero’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/oct/10/frances-haugen-takes-on-facebook-the-making-of-a-modern-us-hero). First off, let’s start by saying I have nothing against Frances Haugen or her point of view. I do find the setting ‘the making of a modern US hero’ debatable. I feel certain that it was not her setting to become a hero or to see heroism. It is the paint stage that the massively less than credible media is taking. If big tech was not under attack the media would most likely have been more moderate in their colours of painting brushes. 

We get told “The 37-year-old logged out of Facebook’s company network for the last time in May and last week was being publicly lauded a “21st-century American hero” on Washington’s Capitol Hill” yet where was the media these last three years? Collecting Facebook advertising money I reckon. So when we are given “I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy” I do not disagree, I have no data to disagree, but the media had that, they have had a clear picture for years, but for the media flaming creates emotion, it create click bitches and it generates digital advertisement income. But Facebook was an eager tool for a long time and you do not bite the hand that feeds you and the media has shown itself very protective of ANY hand that feeds them. If there is one part I disagree with (to some extent) then it is “She repeatedly referred to the company choosing growth and profit over safety and warned that Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms – which tailor the content that a user sees – were causing harm”, it is the “which tailor the content that a user sees – were causing harm” part I cannot completely agree with. I do believe that Frances Haugen is sincere in her approach, but ‘causing harm’ requires evidence, evidence that is a lot harder to obtain. Perhaps that was given, and I did not look at all the documents, but there is a stage, optionally two. The first is “choosing growth and profit over safety”, that seems clear, the entire emotional flames might be part of that, yet there is a stage of “choosing growth and profit over increased safety”, it seems like a small step, yet the stage is proving that it was all against “profit over decreased safety” that matters. We create safety, or we stop increased safety, none of that is on Facebook, only if a clear view of “profit over decreased safety” is shown Facebook will have a larger problem. You see, no matter how we point the fingers on ‘flaming’ in the end it is the view of the less than articulate person lacking a decent education and the US is so protective of its First Amendment, that nothing goes anywhere. The Media has been using that stick to slap donkeys, horses, dogs and people for decades. In this I have some issues with Democrat Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), when we are given   “Facebook is like big tobacco, enticing young kids with that first cigarette,” said Senator Markey at the hearing. “Congress will be taking action. We will not allow your company to harm our children and our families and our democracy, any longer.” I cannot completely disagree, yet in the 70’s and 80’s there was clear evidence on Big Tobacco, but the US government and corporations had no issues taxing and grabbing marketing dollars wherever they could. (Example at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vg_QVAEJtg) If Facebook is just as bad, you should have had years of evidence and I believe you had it but these political big wigs were unwilling to act. A model based on selling advertisements that brought in billions, what was there not to love and for the most the media loved it too. So I am not arguing with the views that Frances Haugen is bringing, it is the views of those heralding her now. And too many of them should be seriously afraid. When hackers and others start looking into data and the timeline of decisions a few people in the Senate, Congress and a few other players will sweat drops of death. 

And my view? Well CNBC did that work with ‘Facebook spent more on lobbying than any other Big Tech company in 2020’ (at https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/22/facebook-spent-more-on-lobbying-than-any-other-big-tech-company-in-2020.html) at the beginning of the year. So when someone grabs an abacus and digs on where the $19 million plus went, some politicians might not like the answers the people are given, and that is the part that is out in the open, the setting of Stakeholders and media for Facebook might optionally double or triple that amount. It is the highest of all the FAANG group and almost twice as much as Microsoft, so what do you think will happen next? 

It took 20 years for big tobacco to get into real trouble, as such if there is a parallel there is every chance that something is done by 2040, as such Facebook has plenty of time. But in all this, there is a part missing, which is not on anyone (and not on CNBC either). The stage where the people get to know the names the lobbyists and how these politicians voted on Facebook and other first amendment issues. That is the part no one gets to see and I very much doubt that this will change any day soon.

And my point of view is seen with Christopher Wylie when we get “Wylie said he had relived his own experience as a whistleblower by watching Haugen. But he also found the flashbacks frustrating – because nothing has changed.” The Cambridge Analytica is out there and even as the New York Times gives us 2 days ago “We’re Smarter About Facebook Now”, I personally am considering that they are full of it. They needed to be smarter about it close to 2 years ago, so weren’t they? Isn’t that equally a decent question to ask? So as Wylie gives us “The fact that we are still having a conversation about what is happening, not what are we going to do about it, I find slightly exasperating,” shows us clearly the inaction of politics, of policies and the lack of actions by the law, global law no less. Fir we look at the US, but the laws and the actions by the EU and the Commonwealth is equally lacking, so why is that? It is due to the choices some make and the consequences we all have to face and in a stage where every coffer is empty and every nation has a credit card that has a maximised debt, acting against a company bringing in millions in taxable dollars is often not considered.

We all make choices, that is not a sin, but after the Catholics, a second deal where the choosing parties are giving sanctum to those endangering kids is debatable on several levels, that being said, those opposing Facebook will need to prove it and that is not an easy matter to do, because as I state, it is not about “choosing growth and profit over safety”, it will be about “profit versus decreased safety” and that is a very different data stage and the evidence will not be easy to obtain, mainly because the users are often the problem too. Facebook gives us “Facebook’s policy is to delete accounts if there is proof that the account holder is under 13 – they won’t be able to take action if they can’t be sure of the child’s age.” And they try to adhere to that, yet there have been plenty of indications that some were younger, but the stage of “if there is proof that the account holder is under 13”, as such the account stays in place. And when we see several sources give us (unverified for honesty) “A friend has a 9-year-old son and they have allowed him to create his own Facebook account” how can Facebook be blamed and that setting will taint the evidence as well, as such it will take a long time for actual action to start, it is not a setting that Frances Haugen might have seen coming, but in a land of laws, evidence is key (unless political issues take precedence). 

There is a lot more on the Facebook front and it will take months for it all to surface and when it does there is more than likely several months of contemplation and inaction, all because those who could act would not. Who is to blame there? I will let you work that one out.

Have a great day!

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Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics, Science

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