Russian trolls are the least of Facebook’s concerns; Minority suppression, Peter Thiel and Project Alamo may prove more vexing
The hatred toward minority communities starts at the top.
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And every day it threads its way through numerous lives on Facebook.
Over the last decade, fb has become a breeding ground for theft, racism, abuse, bullying, misogyny, child pornography, murder, rape and even beheadings.
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Through its blissful ignorance, the problem grows.
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And even though it’s tried to reduce the published violence by adding more moderators, the issues persist.
Partly because of its built-in ideology.
But mainly because its overall system for monitoring violence is flawed.
For starters, it’s internal guidelines and how they’re administered across its 2 billion monthly users can be wildly inconsistent.
A growing number of minority leaders have been banned from the site with no justification and/or explanation.
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Shaun King, a Black Lives Matter activist and former fb guest speaker was banned for sharing a racist email he received.
Leslie Mac, a social justice activist, was banned for commenting on white people being silent when they see racism.
A change. org campaign has been started with suggestions for how these issues can be resolved.
Sign the Petition
Facebook: Stop Censoring and Banning the Accounts of Black and Trans Activists
Germany’s taken it a step further by passing a social media hate speech law.
A similar law being passed by the U.S. Congress right now seems farfetched at best. Especially since Peter Thiel is one of Trump’s most senior advisors.
Thiel, Facebook’s longest serving board member and Zuckerberg confidant, has a checkered past regarding discrimination.
He’s currently in talks with the White House to become the chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. The P.I.A.B. oversees the activities of the U.S. intelligence agencies. Its power cannot be overstated.
It’s a perfect fit for Thiel’s obsession with the so-called Deep State and Palantir, the data-mining and analytics company he co-founded.
Palantir, which received $2M in funds from the CIA’s venture arm In-Q-Tel, has been helping the gov track illegal immigrants since 2011. He stands to greatly “benefit financially from a deportation campaign.”
At the same time, Thiel’s personally invested in www.ComparaGuru.com, a consumer site that helps Mexicans “find the right financial product at the most competitive price.”
Palantir is also used by law enforcement agencies across the country.
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Thiel and his Founders Fund have invested more than $1 billion dollars in at least 50 data-collection startups.
They range from smart home data collecting, financial platforms and consumer shopping habits to cybersecurity and machine learning and AI.
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Aside from being an early investor in fb, Thiel was also an early investor in Thrive Capital, a VC fund started by Josh Kushner, Jared Kushner’s brother.
The Kushners and Thiel investments overlap at various startups like Reddit, Artsy, Oscar and Cadre.
In a revised filing after entering the WH, Jared revealed his real estate holding company owned a stake in Cadre.
Yuri Milner, a billionaire Russian investor who co-founded Digital Sky Technologies, is also an investor in Cadre. D.S.T. and Mail.ru, another Milner company, invested $200 million in fb from 2009–2011.
D.S.T is co-owned by Alisher Usmanov, a Russian billionaire oligarch with long ties to the Russian gov.
Zuckerberg defends the decision to allow Russians to invest in Facebook.
The banning of minority activists on fb has raised concerns that Russia may be playing a role.
The disinformation campaign is an admitted ploy by Russia.
Perhaps another reason for minority activists being banned on Facebook may be as simple as Facebook’s demographics. Most employees are white so they may not be the best arbiters of what constitutes racism.
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Moderators have also complained about not being properly trained, supported and paid.
Another flawed system with in Facebook, which has been vastly underreported, is the technical aid it provided to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Jared Kushner and Brad Parscale build Project Alamo.
As Kushner began to ramp up Trump’s online campaign, he reached out to his tech friends to better understand the tools at his disposal. These friends included Thiel and his brother Josh.
Kushner and Parscale created Project Alamo to build first-rate tech tools to target undecided voters.
The Trump campaign contracted with Cambridge Analytica to develop a dataset of nearly 200 million Americans. This became the foundation by which Project Alamo formulated its various online social network campaigns. Of the total dataset, the campaign “identified 13.5 million voters in 16 battleground states whom it consider(ed) persuadable.”
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The data was used to build tools like the “Battleground Optimizer Path to Victory” model which weighed and ranked the most critical states it needed to get to 270 electoral votes.
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But perhaps the most useful part of the operation were the developers that Facebook and Google supplied.
When asked by a BBC reporter what the Facebook, Google and YouTube employees were doing at Project Alamo, Theresa Hong, a former Alamo employee admitted: “They were helping us, you know. They were our hands-on partners as far as being able to utilize the platform as effectively as possible.”
“When you’re pumping in millions and millions of dollars to the social platforms, you’re going to get white club treatment. So, they would send people, you know representatives, to the Project Alamo to ensure that all our needs were being met.”
Project Alamo generated at least 35,000–45,000 ad iterations per day. The Trump campaign spent at least $85 million on fb advertising.
Hong went on to say: “Without Facebook, we wouldn’t have won. I mean Facebook really and truly put us over the edge. Facebook was the medium that proved most successful for this campaign.”
So, did Facebook and Google employees work for the Trump campaign while knowing the campaign was consciously trying to suppress voter turnout? And did the leaders at Facebook and Google know the whole time?