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Where Americans are shaped by propaganda efficiently delivered

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It could not be this slick and efficient were it not planned [Argument from Design]. Kevid Drum posts in Mother Jones:

I was talking to a friend yesterday and the subject turned to politics. He thought the Republican tax cut was a great idea because America had the highest tax rate in the world and we couldn’t compete with other countries. I laughed and told him that was totally wrong. Then he said that Trump might not be the greatest president ever, but at least he’s kept all his promises. I laughed again and told him Trump hadn’t even come close. Then the conversation turned to Brett Kavanaugh, and he complained that Sen. Dianne Feinstein had deliberately held onto Christine Blasey Ford’s letter until the very last second before releasing it. I laughed again and said that was exactly the opposite of what happened. Feinstein did her best never to release it, but it got leaked by someone outside her office.

There were a couple of other things he was wrong about, and eventually he said, “Well, look, if this stuff is wrong then how come Democrats aren’t correcting it?” I mumbled some stuff about Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and asked him where he was getting his information. The answer, it turned out, was mostly the Sunday chat shows.

So if this anecdotal conversation is to be believed, conservatives are highly successful at pushing their talking points on the Sunday morning shows—which are mostly watched by moderate political types—but liberals either don’t push back or don’t do it in a way that’s very memorable. Or else liberals just don’t bother showing up. Since I never watch the Sunday shows, I don’t really know which it is. Comments?

Naturally Democrts and progressives don’t appear so much: they not invited so much. They would introduce turbulence into the information flow, and TPTB want that information to flow smoothly into the meme-set of the majority. Democrats and progressives are not creating effective memes.

Update: And in the intercept: “Facebook Quietly Hid Webpages Bragging of Ability to Influence Elections.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2018 at 1:40 pm

Dishing up lies while proclaiming the love of facts, Trump and Sarah Sanders gaslight America

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Margaret Sullivan writes in the Washington Post:

President Trump’s assault on truth — and would-be truthtellers — has hit a new low.

It may not seem possible, considering that this is a president who has misled or lied to the public thousands of times.

But consider what happened in a White House news briefing Wednesday afternoon. Then consider this week’s rushed and restricted FBI investigationof Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. And, finally, consider the administration’s response to the New York Times’s groundbreaking investigation of Trump family finances that was published this week.

There can be no doubt: We’re in a whole new phase of the Orwellian nightmare in which black is called white, and you’d better not dare object to that.

In White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s briefing Wednesday, she blatantly lied in describing her boss’s ridicule, at a rally the night before, of Christine Blasey Ford. (Imagine the volume of lies we’d be subjected to if these “daily” briefings happened more frequently than once every few weeks.)

Anyone who saw Trump’s performance could observe that he was cruelly mocking the California professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school — all to the delight of his laughing and cheering crowd.

Michael Bromwich, one of Ford’s attorneys, aptly described what Trump did as “vicious, vile and soulless.”

But Sanders countered reporters’ repeated questions about it by stating that the president was merely reciting the facts of the case. She ignored the reality that the supposed facts he gave (for example, that Kavanaugh’s accuser didn’t know whether the alleged assault happened upstairs or downstairs) contradicted what Ford had said last week to a global audience under oath.

And — this was rich — Sanders offered the idea that facts, not emotion, should decide whether Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

“A very contemptuous, evasive and unhelpful performance even by Sanders standards,” tweeted Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star and one of the straightest shooters among those who cover the White House.

Then — perhaps worse still — there’s the extremely restricted FBI investigation that, according to new reporting in the New Yorker and elsewhere, did not include the testimony of knowledgeable people who wanted to cast light on the allegations against Kavanaugh.

Sanders spouted the GOP line that the White House had given the FBI free rein.

But as The Washington Post reported: “Even before the investigation ended, several people who said they had information that could be useful said they ended up mired in bureaucracy when they tried to get in touch with the FBI.”

And the bureau was even reportedly restricted from exploring whether Kavanaugh had lied under oath about his alcohol use.

The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer wrote that potential witnesses “have been resorting to sending statements, unsolicited, to the Bureau and to senators, in hopes that they would be seen before the inquiry concluded.”

The fact that the report was completed well ahead of the one-week deadline adds to the undeniable conclusion that this was far less a search for truth in a complex and perhaps unknowable situation, and much more an old-fashioned whitewash.

Yet we’re supposed to believe that any questioning of this amounts to “moving the goal posts.”

That’s classic gaslighting, which longtime Trump observer (and “Art of the Deal” ghostwriter) Tony Schwartz once described as “a blend of lying, denial, insistence and intimidation designed to fuel uncertainty and doubt in others about what’s actually true.”

The gaslighting extended, too, to Trump’s reaction to a meticulously reported and far-reaching New York Times investigation of Trump’s crooked family finances.

The report was — according to Trump, his lawyer and Sanders — completely false and defamatory. They haven’t addressed the specifics, except to say that a lawsuit against the Times may be forthcoming.

Add that to the list of things that are best not to believe. (My colleague Paul Farhi wrote about how often Trump threatens to sue, and how little tends to come of those threats.)

Now add in . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2018 at 3:16 pm

White people are still raised to be racially illiterate. If we don’t recognize the system, our inaction will uphold it.

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Robin DiAngelo writes in NBC News Think:

As a white person, I was raised to be racially illiterate. On the rare occasion in which race came up in school or professional development, we typically studied “them,” not “us.” I learned about their histories, struggles and triumphs. But consistently left off the table was the question: “Histories, struggles and triumphs in relation to whom?”

Take the Jackie Robinson story. Robinson is celebrated as the first African-American to break the so-called color line and play in Major League Baseball. While Robinson was certainly an exceptional baseball player, framing the story this way depicts him as racially special. The subtext is that Robinson was the first black athlete strong enough to overcome the barriers preventing blacks from competing with whites; no black athletes before him were skilled enough to do so. While this tagline elevates Robinson as an individual, it implicitly positions African-Americans overall as inferior. It also falsely propagates the belief that racism in sports ended with Robinson, implying that current struggles against racism in sports are unnecessary.

Such narratives of racial exceptionality obscure the reality of ongoing institutional white control while reinforcing individualism and the illusion of meritocracy. Importantly, these narratives do whites a disservice by promoting racial illiteracy, leaving us with simplistic explanations for racial inequality. By not naming what those barriers were, who put them there, and how they were removed, we are also denied much needed anti-racist role models. In Robinson’s case, these role models are the white people who actually changed the rules and opened professional sports leagues to African-American players.

Historical narratives of racial exceptionality also leave us unprepared to address current conditions. For example, they hide the role of race in the response to the opioid crisis versus the crack epidemic, the Parkland shooting versus the Black Lives Matter movement, gentrification versus Flint, Michigan, the Bundy Standoff versus Standing Rock. We are left without the analysis needed to engage with these deeply complex social dynamics.

Imagine instead, if the story of Jackie Robinson went something like this: “Jackie Robinson was the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.” This telling acknowledges the role of white control. It simply wasn’t up to Robinson. Had he walked onto the field before being granted permission by white owners and policy makers, the police would have removed him. Critically, the real Jackie Robinson story is a story of the relationship between blacks and whites in this country, between this individual black man and a white institution. Reframing race in the Jackie Robinson story reveals white structures of power and the strategies used by those who contested that power, strategies that we can build upon today as we work for racial justice.

Such narratives of racial exceptionality obscure the reality of ongoing institutional white control while reinforcing individualism and the illusion of meritocracy. Importantly, these narratives do whites a disservice by promoting racial illiteracy, leaving us with simplistic explanations for racial inequality. By not naming what those barriers were, who put them there, and how they were removed, we are also denied much needed anti-racist role models. In Robinson’s case, these role models are the white people who actually changed the rules and opened professional sports leagues to African-American players.

As a product of my culture, my racial illiteracy has rested on a simplistic definition of a racist: an individual who consciously does not like people based on race and is intentionally hurtful to them. Based on this definition, racists are purposely mean. It follows that nice people with good intentions who are friendly to people of a different race cannot be racist. Not only does this definition hide the structural nature of racism, it also enables self-delusion: If I am a nice person with good intentions I am free of all racial bias and cannot participate in racism. Within this limited paradigm, to simply suggest that as a white person, my race has meaning and grants unearned advantage, much less to suggest that I have absorbed racist messages which may cause me to behave in racist ways — consciously or not — will be deeply disconcerting. The mainstream definition of a racist set me up beautifully to not only deny any impact of racial socialization, but also to receive any suggestion of racially problematic behavior as a personal blow — a questioning of my very moral character. Of course I would take umbrage, feel hurt, attacked and misunderstood; this is what I term white fragility.

Yet regardless of my intentions, these defensive reactions only protect the racist status quo. Those of us who profess to believe in racial equality have to challenge our understanding of racism in ways that don’t uphold it. We also need to build our skills and stamina for the racial discomfort engendered by a new paradigm.

While I was raised to see myself as somehow “innocent” of race, a lifetime of socialization as a white person does provide me insight into the ways my race shapes my frameworks, assumptions and responses, which in turn shape my identity, community and politics. I can speak as an “insider” to my socialization into whiteness: the messages of superiority I have received, patterns I have developed, advantages I enjoy and the personal and institutional challenges I face when seeking to counter racism. I am not, in fact, innocent of race.

Further, people of color have been providing us with the feedback we need for centuries, but our biases have prevented us from granting legitimacy to their voices. Those same biases make us more  . . .

Continue reading.

That is really well said.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2018 at 3:38 pm

The Intercept: Facebook Suppressed a Story about Brett Kavanaugh’s Opposition to Roe v. Wade. We’re Republishing It.

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Ian Millhiser and Betsy Reed report in the Intercept:

Editor’s note: On September 9, Think Progress published an article by Ian Millhiser that made text out of the subtext of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, describing how the Supreme Court nominee, in a fairly straightforward legal analysis, had revealed his belief that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. That legal analysis, the article noted, matched comments Kavanaugh had made in a speech in 2017. “Kavanaugh’s 2017 speech, when laid alongside a statement he made during his confirmation hearing, eliminates any doubt that he opposes Roe,” Millhiser wrote. Facebook, meanwhile, had empowered the right-wing outlet the Weekly Standard to “fact check” articles. The Weekly Standard, invested in Kavanaugh’s confirmation, deemed the Think Progress article “false.” The story was effectively nuked from Facebook, with other outlets threatened with traffic and monetary consequences if they shared it. The story is republished below, with permission from Think Progress, though not from Facebook or the Weekly Standard.

Brett Kavanaugh said he would kill Roe v. Wade last week and almost no one noticed

SUPREME COURT NOMINEE Brett Kavanaugh needs to give Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) plausible deniability regarding his anti-abortion views. Collins, who is nominally pro-choice, said shortly before Kavanaugh’s nomination that a Supreme Court nominee “who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me.” But she’s spent much of the time since his nomination looking for excuses to claim that Kavanaugh’s views on Roe are uncertain.

Well, they aren’t. Even before Kavanaugh became a Supreme Court nominee, his record indicated fairly clearly that he opposes Roe. And he cleared up any remaining doubt on the second day of his confirmation hearing — despite the fact that almost no one noticed.

Even before his hearing, Kavanaugh’s views on abortion weren’t exactly a state secret. He gave a speech to a conservative think tank in 2017 praising Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe v. Wade, and he wrote an opinion arguing that the Trump administration could temporarily imprison undocumented women who were seeking an abortion.

Kavanaugh’s 2017 speech, when laid alongside a statement he made during his confirmation hearing, eliminates any doubt that he opposes Roe.

The judge made this statement during an exchange with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) regarding “the foundations of the unenumerated rights doctrine.” The term “unenumerated rights” refers to rights, such as the right to an abortion, which are not explicitly named in the Constitution’s text, but which the Supreme Court has held to be implicit in that text.

According to Kavanaugh, “all roads lead to the Glucksberg test as the test that the Supreme Court has settled on as the proper test” to determine the scope of these unenumerated rights.

Glucksberg” means Washington v. Glucksberg, a 1997 Supreme Court decision holding that the Constitution does not protect a right to physician-assisted suicide. According to Chief Justice Rehnquist’s opinion for the Court in Glucksberg, the question of which unenumerated rights are protected by the Constitution should be answered by asking which rights are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

We don’t have to guess, however, whether Judge Kavanaugh thinks that a constitutional right to abortion is grounded in this Glucksberg test, because he’s already answered that question. As law professor Jim Oleske points out on Twitter, Kavanaugh said in his 2017 speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute that “even a first-year law student could tell you that the Glucksberg’s approach to unenumerated rights was not consistent with the approach of the abortion cases such as Roe vs. Wade in 1973, as well as the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe, known as Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.”

So, to spell this all out, Kavanaugh believes that the way to determine whether the Constitution protects a particular unenumerated right is to apply the test the Supreme Court laid out in Glucksberg. And the judge also thinks that “even a first-year law student could tell you” that Roe is inconsistent with Glucksberg.

It doesn’t take the brains of a fourth-term United States senator from Maine to figure out what this means if Kavanaugh is confirmed. Judge Kavanaugh will be the fifth vote to kill Roe if he joins the nation’s highest Court.

For what it’s worth, Kavanaugh’s statement that “all roads lead to the Glucksberg test as the test that the Supreme Court has settled on as the proper test” is incorrect. As law professor Jamal Greene first pointed out on Twitter, Glucksberg was “explicitly disavowed in Obergefell,” the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision.

According to ObergefellGlucksberg “is inconsistent with the approach this Court has used in discussing other fundamental rights, including marriage and intimacy.”

Kavanaugh’s apparent endorsement of Glucksberg as the sole test for determining unenumerated rights, in other words, threatens a whole lot more than the right to an abortion. It also suggests that he believes that a wide range of Supreme Court decisions governing sex, romantic relationships, and intimacy were wrongly decided.

Judge Kavanaugh appears to be telegraphing his belief that RoeObergefell, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which provides that the government cannot prosecute consenting adults for having sex, were not correctly decided.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2018 at 12:07 pm

D.C.-Based Pro-Israel Group Secretly Ran Misleading Facebook Ads to Target Pro-Palestinian Activist

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Justin Elliott, ProPublica, and Josh Nathan-Kazis, The Forward, report:

In 2016, as Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi performed at college campuses around the United States, his appearances seemed to spark student protests.

Before his visit to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, a page called “John Jay Students Against Hate” appeared on Facebook with Kanazi’s face next to a uniformed cop, painting Kanazi as anti-police. When Kanazi crossed the country a few days later to visit San Jose State, a nearly-identical Facebook page popped up, this one called “SJSU Students Against Hate,” with Kanazi’s face superimposed over an image of military graves. Paid Facebook campaigns promoted both pages.

Despite their names, the Facebook campaigns were run by professional Washington D.C. political operatives who work for a group called the Israel on Campus Coalition, according to promotional materials obtained by ProPublica and the Forward.

In the materials, which the Israel on Campus Coalition distributed to its donors, the group describes each of the Facebook pages as an “anonymous digital campaign.” The group says it paid to promote the campaign, which reached tens of thousands of people.

The social media campaigns provide another example of how well-funded advocacy organizations are using deceptive strategies to promote their cause online. The Israel on Campus Coalition launched these campaigns during the 2016 election season, at the same time that entities linked to the Russian government bought misleading Facebook ads on a range of political issues.

The Israel on Campus Coalition didn’t respond to requests for comment. The group had a budget of $9 million in its fiscal year ending in June 2017, according to federal tax filings. Its funders include the foundations of billionaire Republican donor Paul Singer and philanthropist Lynn Schusterman.

Asked about the Israel on Campus Coalition pages, a Facebook spokesman said they “violate our policies against misrepresentation and they have been removed.”

In response to criticism of Russia-linked ads, Facebook recently created new rules requiring disclosure of who is paying for political ads on the site. How the company defines what is political remains murky.

Anonymous digital campaigns appear to be a central part of the Israel on Campus Coalition’s efforts to combat pro-Palestinian activism on U.S. campuses. This past spring, the ICC appears to have set up at least one anonymous website to oppose a George Washington University student government resolution that called on the school to divest its endowment from certain companies that students said were profiting from Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, the Forward reported.

The Israel on Campus Coalition’s leaders discussed their covert social media tactics in an unaired Al Jazeera documentary featuring hidden camera footage of Washington, D.C. pro-Israel advocacy officials.

“With the anti-Israel people, what’s most effective, what we found at least in the last year, is you do the opposition research, put up some anonymous website, and then put up targeted Facebook ads,” said the Israel on Campus Coalition’s executive director, Jacob Baime, in the Al Jazeera documentary, which was filmed in 2016. The film was viewed by ProPublica and the Forward.

Baime also said in the documentary that his organization’s work is based on a doctrine used to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. “It’s modeled on General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy,” Baime said. “We’ve copied a lot from that strategy that has been working really well for us, actually.”

McChrystal, who led the U.S. military’s special forces and the NATO war effort in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, emphasized so-called “offensive information operations” to embarrass and discredit violent insurgents.

The Al Jazeera documentary, in which a journalist went undercover as an intern for a pro-Israel advocacy group in Washington, has been the subject of months of international intrigue and has never been aired by the network. Decrying the undercover tactics, pro-Israel groups and members of Congress have pushed back against the documentary series and Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera. The network, which has faced public criticism from its own journalists for not airing the documentary, said in April it did not buckle under pressure from a pro-Israel group in deciding not to broadcast the program. A spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Footage in the documentary also shows Israel on Campus Coalition officials describing their working relationship with the Israeli government.

Baime says in the documentary that Israel on Campus Coalition officials “coordinate” or “communicate” with Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, an Israeli government department that has become the hub of the Israeli government’s overt and covert efforts against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in the U.S. and around the world. A spokesman for the agency didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In the same hidden camera footage, Ian Hersh, the Israel on Campus Coalition’s director of operations, said that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs participates in the group’s “Operations and Intelligence Brief,” a regular strategy meeting.

In recent days, some aspects of the Al Jazeera documentary as well as a short clip have been posted on the website Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian news site whose executive director, Ali Abunimah, appears as an interviewee in the film.

Baime and Hersh didn’t respond to requests for comment about the footage of them in the documentary.

The Israel on Campus Coalition’s online efforts against Kanazi, the Palestinian-American poet, began in November 2016 while he was touring college campuses to promote his book, “Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up From Brooklyn to Palestine.”

According to the Israel on Campus Coalition’s donor materials, the group identified and worked with a non-Jewish military veteran and San Jose State University student to write a blog post critical of Kanazi. The precise nature of the group’s work with the student is unclear from the donor materials, and the student did not respond to requests for comment.

The Israel on Campus Coalition then created and paid to promote the “SJSU Students Against Hate” page, which linked to the blog post. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 September 2018 at 12:32 pm

Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?

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Evan Osnos has a disturbing article in the New Yorker:

At ten o’clock on a weekday morning in August, Mark Zuckerberg, the chairman and C.E.O. of Facebook, opened the front door of his house in Palo Alto, California, wearing the tight smile of obligation. He does not enjoy interviews, especially after two years of ceaseless controversy. Having got his start as a programmer with a nocturnal bent, he is also not a morning person. Walking toward the kitchen, which has a long farmhouse table and cabinets painted forest green, he said, “I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. Have you?”

Since 2011, Zuckerberg has lived in a century-old white clapboard Craftsman in the Crescent Park neighborhood, an enclave of giant oaks and historic homes not far from Stanford University. The house, which cost seven million dollars, affords him a sense of sanctuary. It’s set back from the road, shielded by hedges, a wall, and mature trees. Guests enter through an arched wooden gate and follow a long gravel path to a front lawn with a saltwater pool in the center. The year after Zuckerberg bought the house, he and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, held their wedding in the back yard, which encompasses gardens, a pond, and a shaded pavilion. Since then, they have had two children, and acquired a seven-hundred-acre estate in Hawaii, a ski retreat in Montana, and a four-story town house on Liberty Hill, in San Francisco. But the family’s full-time residence is here, a ten-minute drive from Facebook’s headquarters.

Occasionally, Zuckerberg records a Facebook video from the back yard or the dinner table, as is expected of a man who built his fortune exhorting employees to keep “pushing the world in the direction of making it a more open and transparent place.” But his appetite for personal openness is limited. Although Zuckerberg is the most famous entrepreneur of his generation, he remains elusive to everyone but a small circle of family and friends, and his efforts to protect his privacy inevitably attract attention. The local press has chronicled his feud with a developer who announced plans to build a mansion that would look into Zuckerberg’s master bedroom. After a legal fight, the developer gave up, and Zuckerberg spent forty-four million dollars to buy the houses surrounding his. Over the years, he has come to believe that he will always be the subject of criticism. “We’re not—pick your noncontroversial business—selling dog food, although I think that people who do that probably say there is controversy in that, too, but this is an inherently cultural thing,” he told me, of his business. “It’s at the intersection of technology and psychology, and it’s very personal.”

He carried a plate of banana bread and a carafe of water into the living room, and settled onto a navy-blue velvet sofa. Since co-founding Facebook, in 2004, his uniform has evolved from hoodies and flip-flops to his current outfit, a gray sweater, indigo jeans, and black Nikes. At thirty-four, Zuckerberg, who has very fair skin, a tall forehead, and large eyes, is leaner than when he first became a public figure, more than a decade ago. On the porch, next to the front door, he keeps a Peloton stationary bike, a favorite accessory in the tech world, which live-streams a personal trainer to your home. Zuckerberg uses the machine, but he does not love cycling. A few years ago, on his first attempt to use a road bike with racing pedals, he forgot to unclip, tipped over, and broke his arm. Except for cycling on his porch, he said, “I haven’t clipped in since.”

He and his wife prefer board games to television, and, within reach of the couch, I noticed a game called Ricochet Robots. “It gets extremely competitive,” Zuckerberg said. “We play with these friends, and one of them is a genius at this. Playing with him is just infuriating.” Dave Morin, a former Facebook employee who is the founder and C.E.O. of Sunrise Bio, a startup seeking cures for depression, used to play Risk with Zuckerberg at the office. “He’s not playing you in a game of Risk. He’s playing you in a game of games,” Morin told me. “The first game, he might amass all his armies on one property, and the next game he might spread them all over the place. He’s trying to figure out the psychological way to beat you in all the games.”

Across the tech industry, the depth of Zuckerberg’s desire to win is often remarked upon. Dick Costolo, the former C.E.O. of Twitter, told me, “He’s a ruthless execution machine, and if he has decided to come after you, you’re going to take a beating.” Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said, “There are a number of people in the Valley who have a perception of Mark that he’s really aggressive and competitive. I think some people are a little hesitant about him from that perspective.” Hoffman has been an investor in Facebook since its early days, but for a long time he sensed that Zuckerberg kept his distance because they were both building social networks. “For many years, it was, like, ‘Your LinkedIn thing is going to be crushed, so even though we’re friendly, I don’t want to get too close to you personally, because I’m going to crush you.’ Now, of course, that’s behind us and we’re good friends.”

When I asked Zuckerberg about this reputation, he framed the dynamic differently. The survival of any social-media business rests on “network effects,” in which the value of the network grows only by finding new users. As a result, he said, “there’s a natural zero-sumness. If we’re going to achieve what we want to, it’s not just about building the best features. It’s about building the best community.” He added, “I care about succeeding. And, yes, sometimes you have to beat someone to something, in order to get to the next thing. But that’s not primarily the way that I think I roll.”

For many years, Zuckerberg ended Facebook meetings with the half-joking exhortation “Domination!” Although he eventually stopped doing this (in European legal systems, “dominance” refers to corporate monopoly), his discomfort with losing is undimmed. A few years ago, he played Scrabble on a corporate jet with a friend’s daughter, who was in high school at the time. She won. Before they played a second game, he wrote a simple computer program that would look up his letters in the dictionary so that he could choose from all possible words. Zuckerberg’s program had a narrow lead when the flight landed. The girl told me, “During the game in which I was playing the program, everyone around us was taking sides: Team Human and Team Machine.”

If Facebook were a country, it would have the largest population on earth. More than 2.2 billion people, about a third of humanity, log in at least once a month. That user base has no precedent in the history of American enterprise. Fourteen years after it was founded, in Zuckerberg’s dorm room, Facebook has as many adherents as Christianity.

A couple of years ago, the company was still revelling in its power. By collecting vast quantities of information about its users, it allows advertisers to target people with precision—a business model that earns Facebook more ad revenue in a year than all American newspapers combined. Zuckerberg was spending much of his time conferring with heads of state and unveiling plans of fantastical ambition, such as building giant drones that would beam free Internet (including Facebook) into developing countries. He enjoyed extraordinary control over his company; in addition to his positions as chairman and C.E.O., he controlled about sixty per cent of shareholder votes, thanks to a special class of stock with ten times the power of ordinary shares. His personal fortune had grown to more than sixty billion dollars. Facebook was one of four companies (along with Google, Amazon, and Apple) that dominated the Internet; the combined value of their stock is larger than the G.D.P. of France.

For years, Facebook had heard concerns about its use of private data and its ability to shape people’s behavior. The company’s troubles came to a head during the Presidential election of 2016, when propagandists used the site to spread misinformation that helped turn society against itself. Some of the culprits were profiteers who gamed Facebook’s automated systems with toxic political clickbait known as “fake news.” In a prime example, at least a hundred Web sites were traced to Veles, Macedonia, a small city where entrepreneurs, some still in high school, discovered that posting fabrications to pro-Donald Trump Facebook groups unleashed geysers of traffic. Fake-news sources also paid Facebook to “microtarget” ads at users who had proved susceptible in the past.

The other culprits, according to U.S. intelligence, were Russian agents who wanted to sow political chaos and help Trump win. In February, Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s role in the election, charged thirteen Russians with an “interference operation” that made use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Internet Research Agency, a firm in St. Petersburg working for the Kremlin, drew hundreds of thousands of users to Facebook groups optimized to stoke outrage, including Secured Borders, Blacktivist, and Defend the 2nd. They used Facebook to organize offline rallies, and bought Facebook ads intended to hurt Hillary Clinton’s standing among Democratic voters. (One read “Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.”) With fewer than a hundred operatives, the I.R.A. achieved an astonishing impact: Facebook estimates that the content reached as many as a hundred and fifty million users.

At the same time, former Facebook executives, echoing a growing body of research, began to voice misgivings about the company’s role in exacerbating isolation, outrage, and addictive behaviors. One of the largest studies, published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed the Facebook use of more than five thousand people over three years and found that higher use correlated with self-reported declines in physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. At an event in November, 2017, Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, called himself a “conscientious objector” to social media, saying, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” A few days later, Chamath Palihapitiya, the former vice-president of user growth, told an audience at Stanford, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works—no civil discourse, no coöperation, misinformation, mistruth.” Palihapitiya, a prominent Silicon Valley figure who worked at Facebook from 2007 to 2011, said, “I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds.” Of his children, he added, “They’re not allowed to use this shit.” (Facebook replied to the remarks in a statement, noting that Palihapitiya had left six years earlier, and adding, “Facebook was a very different company back then.”)

In March, Facebook was confronted with an even larger scandal: the Times and the British newspaper the Observer reported that a researcher had gained access to the personal information of Facebook users and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy hired by Trump and other Republicans which advertised using “psychographic” techniques to manipulate voter behavior. In all, the personal data of eighty-seven million people had been harvested. Moreover, Facebook had known of the problem since December of 2015 but had said nothing to users or regulators. The company acknowledged the breach only after the press discovered it.

The Cambridge Analytica revelations touched off the most serious crisis in Facebook’s history, and, with it, a public reckoning with the power of Big Tech. Facebook is now under investigation by the F.B.I., the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as by authorities abroad, from London to Brussels to Sydney. Facebook’s peers and rivals have expressed conspicuously little sympathy. Elon Muskdeleted his Facebook pages and those of his companies, Tesla and SpaceX. Tim Cook, the C.E.O. of Apple, told an interviewer, “We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer,” but “we’ve elected not to do that.” At Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting, in May, executives struggled to keep order. An investor who interrupted the agenda to argue against Zuckerberg’s renomination as chairman was removed. Outside, an airplane flew a banner that read “you broke democracy.” It was paid for by Freedom from Facebook, a coalition of progressive groups that have asked the F.T.C. to break up the company into smaller units.

On July 25th, Facebook’s stock price dropped nineteen per cent, cutting its market value by a hundred and nineteen billion dollars, the largest one-day drop in Wall Street history. Nick Bilton, a technology writer at Vanity Fair, tweeted that Zuckerberg was losing $2.7 million per second, “double what the average American makes in an entire lifetime.” Facebook’s user base had flatlined in the U.S. and Canada, and dropped slightly in Europe, and executives warned that revenue growth would decline further, in part because the scandals had led users to opt out of allowing Facebook to collect some data. Facebook depends on trust, and the events of the past two years had made people wonder whether the company deserved it.

Zuckerberg’s friends describe his travails as a by-product of his success. He is often compared to another Harvard dropout, Bill Gates, who has been his mentor in business and philanthropy. Gates told me, “Somebody who is smart, and rich, and ends up not acknowledging problems as quickly as they should will be attacked as arrogant. That comes with the territory.” He added, “I wouldn’t say that Mark’s an arrogant individual.” But, to critics, Facebook is guilty of a willful blindness driven by greed, naïveté, and contempt for oversight.

In a series of conversations over the summer, I talked to Zuckerberg about Facebook’s problems, and about his underlying views on technology and society. We spoke at his home, at his office, and by phone. I also interviewed four dozen people inside and outside the company about its culture, his performance, and his decision-making. I found Zuckerberg straining, not always coherently, to grasp problems for which he was plainly unprepared. These are not technical puzzles to be cracked in the middle of the night but some of the subtlest aspects of human affairs, including the meaning of truth, the limits of free speech, and the origins of violence.

Zuckerberg is now at the center of a full-fledged debate about the moral character of Silicon Valley and the conscience of its leaders. Leslie Berlin, a historian of technology at Stanford, told me, “For a long time, Silicon Valley enjoyed an unencumbered embrace in America. And now everyone says, Is this a trick? And the question Mark Zuckerberg is dealing with is: Should my company be the arbiter of truth and decency for two billion people? Nobody in the history of technology has dealt with that.”

Facebook’s headquarters, at 1 Hacker Way, in Menlo Park, overlooking the salt marshes south of San Francisco, has the feel of a small, prosperous dictatorship, akin to Kuwait or Brunei. The campus is a self-contained universe, with the full range of free Silicon Valley perks: dry cleaning, haircuts, music lessons, and food by the acre, including barbecue, biryani, and salad bars. (New arrivals are said to put on the “Facebook fifteen.”) Along with stock options and generous benefits, such trappings have roots in the nineteen-seventies, when, Leslie Berlin said, founders aspired to create pleasant workplaces and stave off the rise of labor unions. The campus, which was designed with the help of consultants from Disney, is arranged as an ersatz town that encircles a central plaza, with shops and restaurants and offices along a main street. From the air, the word “hack” is visible in gigantic letters on the plaza pavement.

On Zuckerberg’s campus, he is king. Executives offer fulsome praise. David Marcus, who runs Facebook’s blockchain project, told me recently, “When I see him portrayed in certain ways, it really hurts me personally, because it’s not the guy he is.” Even when colleagues speak more candidly, on the whole they like him. “He’s not an asshole,” a former senior executive told me. “That’s why people work there so long.”

Before I visited Zuckerberg for the first time, in June, members of his staff offered the kind of advice usually reserved for approaching a skittish bird: proceed gingerly, build a connection, avoid surprises. The advice, I discovered, wasn’t necessary. In person, he is warmer and more direct than his public pronouncements, which resemble a politician’s bland pablum, would suggest. The contrast between the public and the private Zuckerberg reminded me of Hillary Clinton. In both cases, friends complain that the popular image is divorced from the casual, funny, generous person they know. Yet neither Zuckerberg nor Clinton has found a way to publicly express a more genuine persona. In Zuckerberg’s case, moments of self-reflection are so rare that, last spring, following a CNN interview in which he said that he wanted to build a company that “my girls are going to grow up and be proud of me for,” the network framed the clip as a news event, with the title “Zuckerberg in rare emotional moment.”

I asked Zuckerberg about his aversion to opening up.“I’m not the most polished person, and I will say something wrong, and you see the cost of that,” he said. “I don’t want to inflict that pain, or do something that’s going to not reflect well on the people around me.” In the most recent flap, a few weeks earlier, he had told Kara Swisher, the host of the “Recode Decode” podcast, that he permits Holocaust deniers on Facebook because he isn’t sure if they are “intentionally getting it wrong.” After a furor erupted, he issued a statement saying that he finds Holocaust denial “deeply offensive.” Zuckerberg told me, “In an alternate world where there weren’t the compounding experiences that I had, I probably would have gotten more comfortable being more personal, and out there, and I wouldn’t have felt pushback every time I did something. And maybe my persona, or at least how I felt comfortable acting publicly, would shift.”

The downside of Zuckerberg’s exalted status within his company is that it is difficult for him to get genuine, unexpurgated feedback. He has tried, at times, to puncture his own bubble. In 2013, as a New Year’s resolution, he pledged to meet someone new, outside Facebook, every day. In 2017, he travelled to more than thirty states on a “listening tour” that he hoped would better acquaint him with the outside world. David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign manager, who is now the head of policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the family’s philanthropic investment company, attended some events on the tour. He told me, “When a politician goes to one of those, it’s an hour, and they’re talking for fifty of those minutes. He would talk for, like, five, and just ask questions.”

But the exercise came off as stilted and tone-deaf. Zuckerberg travelled with a professional photographer, who documented him feeding a calf in Wisconsin, ordering barbecue, and working on an assembly line at a Ford plant in Michigan. Online, people joked that the photos made him look like an extraterrestrial exploring the human race for the first time. A former Facebook executive who was involved in the tour told a friend, “No one wanted to tell Mark, and no one did tell Mark, that this really looks just dumb.”

Zuckerberg has spent nearly half his life inside a company of his own making, handpicking his lieutenants, and sculpting his environment to suit him. Even Facebook’s signature royal blue reflects his tastes. He is red-green color-blind, and he chose blue because he sees it most vividly. Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, told me, “Sometimes Mark will say, in front of the company, ‘Well, I’ve never worked anywhere else, but Sheryl tells me . . .’ ” She went on, “He acknowledges he doesn’t always have the most experience. He’s only had the experience he’s had, and being Mark Zuckerberg is pretty extraordinary.”

Long before it seemed inevitable or even plausible, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg had an outsized sense of his own potential. It was “a teleological frame of feeling almost chosen,” a longtime friend told me. “I think Mark has always seen himself as a man of history, someone who is destined to be great, and I mean that in the broadest sense of the term.” Zuckerberg has observed that more than a few giants of history grew up in bourgeois comfort near big cities and then channelled those advantages into transformative power.

In Zuckerberg’s case, the setting was Dobbs Ferry, New York, a Westchester County suburb twenty-five miles north of New York City. His mother, Karen Kempner, grew up in Queens; on a blind date, she met a mailman’s son, Edward Zuckerberg, of Flatbush, who was studying to be a dentist. They married and had four children. Mark, the only boy, was the second-oldest. His mother, who had become a psychiatrist, eventually gave up her career to take care of the kids and manage the dental office, which was connected to the family home. Of his father, Zuckerberg told me, “He was a dentist, but he was also a huge techie. So he always had not just a system for drilling teeth but, like, the laser system for drilling teeth that was controlled by the computer.” Ed Zuckerberg marketed himself as the Painless Dr. Z, and later drummed up dentistry business with a direct-mail solicitation that declared, “I am literally the Father of Facebook!” (Since 2013, Zuckerberg’s parents have lived in California, where Ed practices part time and lectures on using social media to attract patients.)

In the nineteen-eighties and nineties, Ed bought early personal computers—the Atari 800, the I.B.M. XT—and Mark learned to code. At twelve, he set up his first network, ZuckNet, on which messages and files could be shared between the house and his father’s dental office. Rabbi David Holtz, of Temple Beth Abraham, in Tarrytown, told me that he watched Zuckerberg with other kids and sensed that he was “beyond a lot of his peers. He was thinking about things that other people were not.” When I asked Zuckerberg where his drive came from, he traced it to his grandparents, who had immigrated from Europe in the early twentieth century. “They came over, went through the Great Depression, had very hard lives,” he said. “Their dream for their kids was that they would each become doctors, which they did, and my mom just always believed that we should have a bigger impact.” His eldest sister, Randi, an early Facebook spokesperson, has gone on to write books and host a radio show; Donna received her Ph.D. in classics from Princeton and edits an online classics journal; Arielle has worked at Google and as a venture capitalist.

When Zuckerberg was a junior in high school, he transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy, where he spent most of his time coding, fencing, and studying Latin. Ancient Rome became a lifelong fascination, first because of the language (“It’s very much like coding or math, and so I appreciated that”) and then because of the history. Zuckerberg told me, “You have all these good and bad and complex figures. I think Augustus is one of the most fascinating. Basically, through a really harsh approach, he established two hundred years of world peace.” For non-classics majors: Augustus Caesar, born in 63 B.C., staked his claim to power at the age of eighteen and turned Rome from a republic into an empire by conquering Egypt, northern Spain, and large parts of central Europe. He also eliminated political opponents, banished his daughter for promiscuity, and was suspected of arranging the execution of his grandson.

“What are the trade-offs in that?” Zuckerberg said, growing animated. “On the one hand, world peace is a long-term goal that people talk about today. Two hundred years feels unattainable.” On the other hand, he said, “that didn’t come for free, and he had to do certain things.” In 2012, Zuckerberg and Chan spent their honeymoon in Rome. He later said, “My wife was making fun of me, saying she thought there were three people on the honeymoon: me, her, and Augustus. All the photos were different sculptures of Augustus.” The couple named their second daughter August.

In 2002, Zuckerberg went to Harvard, where he embraced the hacker mystique, which celebrates brilliance in pursuit of disruption. “The ‘fuck you’ to those in power was very strong,” the longtime friend said. In 2004, as a sophomore, he embarked on the project whose origin story is now well known: the founding of Thefacebook.com with four fellow-students (“the” was dropped the following year); the legal battles over ownership, including a suit filed by twin brothers, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, accusing Zuckerberg of stealing their idea; the disclosure of embarrassing messages in which Zuckerberg mocked users for giving him so much data (“they ‘trust me.’ dumb fucks,” he wrote); his regrets about those remarks, and his efforts, in the years afterward, to convince the world that he has left that mind-set behind.

During Zuckerberg’s sophomore year, in line for the bathroom at a party, he met Priscilla Chan, who was a freshman. Her parents, who traced their roots to China, had grown up in Vietnam and arrived in the U.S. as refugees after the war, settling in Quincy, Massachusetts, where they washed dishes in a Chinese restaurant. Priscilla was the eldest of three daughters, and the first member of her family to go to college. “I suddenly go to Harvard, where there’s this world where people had real and meaningful intellectual pursuits,” she said. “Then I met Mark, who so exemplified that.” She was struck by how little Zuckerberg’s background had in common with her own. “Fifty per cent of people go to college from the high school I went to. You could learn how to be a carpenter or a mechanic,” she said. “I was just, like, ‘This person speaks a whole new language and lives in a framework that I’ve never seen before.’ ” She added, “Maybe there was some judgment on my part: ‘You don’t understand me because you went to Phillips Exeter,’ ” but, she said, “I had to realize early on that I was not going to change who Mark was.” After Harvard, Chan taught in a primary school and eventually became a pediatrician. In 2017, she stopped seeing patients to be the day-to-day head of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. When I asked Chan about how Zuckerberg had responded at home to the criticism of the past two years, she talked to me about Sitzfleisch, the German term for sitting and working for long periods of time. “He’d actually sit so long that he froze up his muscles and injured his hip,” she said.

After his sophomore year, Zuckerberg moved to Palo Alto and never left. Even by the standards of Silicon Valley, Facebook’s first office had a youthful feel. Zuckerberg carried two sets of business cards. One said “I’m CEO . . . bitch!” Visitors encountered a graffiti mural of a scantily clad woman riding a Rottweiler. In Adam Fisher’s “Valley of Genius,” an oral history of Silicon Valley, an early employee named Ezra Callahan muses, “ ‘How much was the direction of the internet influenced by the perspective of nineteen-, twenty-, twenty-one-year-old well-off white boys?’ That’s a real question that sociologists will be studying forever.”

Facebook was fortunate to launch when it did: . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

Later in the article:

To gain greater reach, Facebook had made the fateful decision to become a “platform” for outside developers, much as Windows had been in the realm of desktop computers, a generation before. The company had opened its trove of data to programmers who wanted to build Facebook games, personality tests, and other apps. After a few months at Facebook, Parakilas was put in charge of a team responsible for making sure that outsiders were not misusing the data, and he was unnerved by what he found. Some games were siphoning off users’ messages and photographs. In one case, he said, a developer was harvesting user information, including that of children, to create unauthorized profiles on its own Web site. Facebook had given away data before it had a system to check for abuse. Parakilas suggested that there be an audit to uncover the scale of the problem. But, according to Parakilas, an executive rejected the idea, telling him, “Do you really want to see what you’ll find?”

Parakilas told me, “It was very difficult to get the kind of resources that you needed to do a good job of insuring real compliance. Meanwhile, you looked at the Growth Team and they had engineers coming out of their ears. All the smartest minds are focused on doing whatever they can possibly do to get those growth numbers up.”

And later:

Sean Parker later described the company’s expertise as “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” The goal: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” Facebook engineers discovered that people find it nearly impossible not to log in after receiving an e-mail saying that someone has uploaded a picture of them. Facebook also discovered its power to affect people’s political behavior. Researchers found that, during the 2010 midterm elections, Facebook was able to prod users to vote simply by feeding them pictures of friends who had already voted, and by giving them the option to click on an “I Voted” button. The technique boosted turnout by three hundred and forty thousand people—more than four times the number of votes separating Trump and Clinton in key states in the 2016 race. It became a running joke among employees that Facebook could tilt an election just by choosing where to deploy its “I Voted” button.

These powers of social engineering could be put to dubious purposes. In 2012, Facebook data scientists used nearly seven hundred thousand people as guinea pigs, feeding them happy or sad posts to test whether emotion is contagious on social media. (They concluded that it is.) When the findings were published, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they caused an uproar among users, many of whom were horrified that their emotions may have been surreptitiously manipulated. In an apology, one of the scientists wrote, “In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

Facebook was, in the words of Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, becoming a pioneer in “persuasive technology.” He explained, “A hammer, in your hand, is non-persuasive—it doesn’t have its own ways of manipulating the person that holds it. But Facebook and Snapchat, in their design features, are persuading a teen-ager to wake up and see photo after photo after photo of their friends having fun without them, even if it makes them feel worse.” In 2015, Harris delivered a talk at Facebook about his concern that social media was contributing to alienation. “I said, ‘You guys are in the best position in the world to deal with loneliness and see it as a thing that you are amplifying and a thing that you can help make go the other way,’ ” he told me. “They didn’t do anything about it.” He added, “My points were in their blind spot.”

As Facebook grew, Zuckerberg and his executives adopted a core belief: even if people criticized your decisions, they would eventually come around. In one of the first demonstrations of that idea, in 2006, Facebook introduced the . . .

And later:

As Facebook expanded, so did its blind spots. The company’s financial future relies partly on growth in developing countries, but the platform has been a powerful catalyst of violence in fragile parts of the globe. In India, the largest market for Facebook’s WhatsApp service, hoaxes have triggered riots, lynchings, and fatal beatings. Local officials resorted to shutting down the Internet sixty-five times last year. In Libya, people took to Facebook to trade weapons, and armed groups relayed the locations of targets for artillery strikes. In Sri Lanka, after a Buddhist mob attacked Muslims this spring over a false rumor, a Presidential adviser told the Times, “The germs are ours, but Facebook is the wind.”

Nowhere has the damage been starker than in Myanmar, where the Rohingya Muslim minority has been subject to brutal killings, gang rapes, and torture. In 2012, around one per cent of the country’s population had access to the Internet. Three years later, that figure had reached twenty-five per cent. Phones often came preloaded with the Facebook app, and Buddhist extremists seeking to inflame ethnic tensions with the Rohingya mastered the art of misinformation. Wirathu, a monk with a large Facebook following, sparked a deadly riot against Muslims in 2014 when he shared a fake report of a rape and warned of a “Jihad against us.” Others gamed Facebook’s rules against hate speech by fanning paranoia about demographic change. Although Muslims make up no more than five per cent of the country, a popular graphic appearing on Facebook cautioned that “when Muslims become the most powerful” they will offer “Islam or the sword.”

Beginning in 2013, a series of experts on Myanmar met with Facebook officials to warn them that it was fuelling attacks on the Rohingya. David Madden, an entrepreneur based in Myanmar, delivered a presentation to officials at the Menlo Park headquarters, pointing out that the company was playing a role akin to that of the radio broadcasts that spread hatred during the Rwandan genocide. In 2016, C4ADS, a Washington-based nonprofit, published a detailed analysis of Facebook usage in Myanmar, and described a “campaign of hate speech that actively dehumanizes Muslims.” Facebook officials said that they were hiring more Burmese-language reviewers to take down dangerous content, but the company repeatedly declined to say how many had actually been hired. By last March, the situation had become dire: almost a million Rohingya had fled the country, and more than a hundred thousand were confined to internal camps. The United Nations investigator in charge of examining the crisis, which the U.N. has deemed a genocide, said, “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it was originally intended.” Afterward, when pressed, Zuckerberg repeated the claim that Facebook was “hiring dozens” of additional Burmese-language content reviewers.

More than three months later, I asked Jes Kaliebe Petersen, the C.E.O. of Phandeeyar, a tech hub in Myanmar, if there had been any progress. “We haven’t seen any tangible change from Facebook,” he told me. “We don’t know how much content is being reported. We don’t know how many people at Facebook speak Burmese. The situation is getting worse and worse here.”

And later:

Over the years, Zuckerberg had come to see his ability to reject complaints as a virtue. But, by 2016, that stance had primed the company for a crisis. Tristan Harris, the design ethicist, said, “When you’re running anything like Facebook, you get criticized all the time, and you just stop paying attention to criticism if a lot of it is not well founded. You learn to treat it as naïve and uninformed.” He went on, “The problem is it also puts you out of touch with genuine criticism from people who actually understand the issues.”

The 2016 election was supposed to be good for Facebook. That January, Sheryl Sandberg told investors that the election would be “a big deal in terms of ad spend,” comparable to the Super Bowl and the World Cup. According to Borrell Associates, a research and consulting firm, candidates and other political groups were on track to spend $1.4 billion online in the election, up ninefold from four years earlier.

Facebook offered to “embed” employees, for free, in Presidential campaign offices to help them use the platform effectively. Clinton’s campaign said no. Trump’s said yes, and Facebook employees helped his campaign craft messages. Although Trump’s language was openly hostile to ethnic minorities, inside Facebook his behavior felt, to some executives, like just part of the distant cesspool of Washington. Americans always seemed to be choosing between a hated Republican and a hated Democrat, and Trump’s descriptions of Mexicans as rapists was simply an extension of that.

During the campaign, Trump used Facebook to raise two hundred and eighty million dollars. Just days before the election, his team paid for a voter-suppression effort on the platform. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, it targeted three Democratic constituencies—“idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans”—sending them videos precisely tailored to discourage them from turning out for Clinton. Theresa Hong, the Trump campaign’s digital-content director, later told an interviewer, “Without Facebook we wouldn’t have won.”

Osnos concludes:

The caricature of Zuckerberg is that of an automaton with little regard for the human dimensions of his work. The truth is something else: he decided long ago that no historical change is painless. Like Augustus, he is at peace with his trade-offs. Between speech and truth, he chose speech. Between speed and perfection, he chose speed. Between scale and safety, he chose scale. His life thus far has convinced him that he can solve “problem after problem after problem,” no matter the howling from the public it may cause.

At a certain point, the habits of mind that served Zuckerberg well on his ascent will start to work against him. To avoid further crises, he will have to embrace the fact that he’s now a protector of the peace, not a disrupter of it. Facebook’s colossal power of persuasion has delivered fortune but also peril. Like it or not, Zuckerberg is a gatekeeper. The era when Facebook could learn by doing, and fix the mistakes later, is over. The costs are too high, and idealism is not a defense against negligence.

In some sense, the “Mark Zuckerberg production”—as he called Facebook in its early years—has only just begun. Zuckerberg is not yet thirty-five, and the ambition with which he built his empire could well be directed toward shoring up his company, his country, and his name. The question is not whether Zuckerberg has the power to fix Facebook but whether he has the will; whether he will kick people out of his office—with the gusto that he once mustered for the pivot to mobile—if they don’t bring him ideas for preventing violence in Myanmar, or protecting privacy, or mitigating the toxicity of social media. He succeeded, long ago, in making Facebook great. The challenge before him now is to make it good. ♦

UPDATE: From Brian Stelter’s newsletter tonight:

Oliver Darcy emails: Should Facebook allow partisan media outlets to participate in its fact-checking program? That debate erupted on social media Tuesday after The Weekly Standard fact-checked a Think Progress piece on Brett Kavanaugh that asserted the SCOTUS nominee “said he would kill Roe v. Wade last week.”

The Weekly Standard explained that Kavanaugh never stated he would overturn the decision, but noted the Think Progress author “engaged in an argument to suggest how Kavanaugh might vote in a Roe v. Wade redo.” The Weekly Standard’s fact-check resulted in Facebook alerting others that “additional reporting” existed on the matter. While the fact-check was accurate, former Think Progress editor Judd Legum took issue with it in a viral thread of tweets. “Now because a hack at a right-wing magazine has decided he doesn’t like this article, Facebook is telling every user who encounters it that it is ‘false,'” Legum wrote.

Others defended The Weekly Standard, noting that the fact-check was fair. Weekly Standard EIC Steve Hayes told me that the Think Progress claim was “indisputably false” and added, “Our fact-check is accurate. We stand by it.”

>> The bottom line: Facebook allowing media organizations with ideological bents to fact check other media organizations with ideological bents seems like it could be a recipe for disaster. One can easily see future scenarios where a liberal website fact-checks a conservative website and neither side can decide on what the truth of the matter is…

Written by LeisureGuy

11 September 2018 at 4:43 pm

Kevin Drum has a good take on all the leaks and backstabbing

leave a comment »

Written by LeisureGuy

5 September 2018 at 4:41 pm

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