We’ve Been Zucked

Mark Zuckerberg takes a a bold stand for money and inaction

Mark Zuckerberg has decided to do nothing and call it free speech. Rather than deal with election manipulation, hate speech, and violence, Zuckerberg has decided to bundle it all as ‘free speech’, wash his hands and just cash the cheques. Facebook is officially toxic now.

Before the dear leader’s speech, Zuck was faced with breakup pressure on two sides. Democrats wanted to break Facebook up for its toxic monopoly power, and Republicans wanted to break it up because they felt (incorrectly) that it was biased against them. Politically, he had to choose a side.

He chose the wrong one.

Rather than solving the systemic problem, he decided to make the platform more welcoming to conservatives and — by extension — white supremacists, racists and any wealthy person, foreign country or intelligence agency that wants to pay. I guess solving a made-up problem is easier than solving a real one. It certainly pays better.

Zuckerberg tried to frame his speech ethically, making up an origin story for his original hot-or-not app and citing civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King. This is what MLK’s daughter had to say about that:

What Zuckerberg is engaging in is Orwellian doublespeak. Freedom is paid ads. Voices are political action committees. Democracy is deceit.

Rather than think about and invest in truth and responsibility, Zuckerberg is washing his hands of it all and calling it freedom. But it isn’t freedom for immigrants who are called an invasion. It isn’t freedom for Muslims who are targeted by mob violence.

Mark Zuckerberg is giving the powerful the freedom to lie and the powerless the freedom to die.

I don’t say the death part lightly, but people did die in my country, based largely on rumors and hate speech spreading on Facebook’s platforms. In response Sri Lanka temporarily banned the network. Given that Facebook seems to be wiping its hands of all responsibility, I honestly feel like more countries should ban their services outright, until it’s monopoly power is broken up.

Reading his speech, which Facebook calls Mark Zuckerberg Stands for Voice and Free Expression is honestly nauseating. It should be Mark Zuckerberg Stands For Politicians And Paid Ads. He talks about giving people a voice, but that’s clearly not what we are to Facebook. We’re just eyeballs. The fact is that Facebook gives money a voice. For any reach you have to pay, and if you pay then you have ‘free speech’.

The new Facebook gives politicians a license to lie and manipulate, and governments (including China and Russia) an easy and now open system to manipulate democracies. Facebook’s new policies create a world where an average citizen can’t post a nipple, but a politician can say whatever they want, funded by whatever dark money.

Zuckerberg acts like voice and free expression are neutral things, and at Facebook’s scale they are not. For one thing, Facebook does moderate content for people and it’s algorithm does edit and decide what’s being seen. Our voices are controlled by Facebook and their reach is limited or often denied. The new policy sets money free, not people.

Look at what Zuckerberg has proposed. Facebook is now an open platform for politicians (but moderated for citizens) with paid reach for the wealthy (and limited access for the poor). What he calls free speech is really paid speech. The rich and powerful are free to say what they want and Facebook is free to profit.

With messaging also, his move towards full encryption is much the same. It’s cloaked in the idea of personal privacy, but the effect is that Facebook can wipe its hands of moderating messaging at all.

I haven’t used Facebook for years but I still thought that it had some use. People run small businesses or talk or just share baby photos. After the riots and shutdowns in my country, Facebook had made some direct efforts to hire local language moderators and maybe prevent this thing from hurting us. I thought they were trying to improve.

Their dear leader’s speech, however, dispirits me greatly. He has decided to do nothing and call it free speech. He has taken sides with the Republican party and, by extension, racists, white supremacists, facists, and God knows what dark money. He is citing civil rights leaders in a frankly repugnant way, to shield himself from responsibility for a product that’s trampling the very same people.

Under Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has become like the Roman Colosseum. The powerful feed the weak to lions, while masses cheer. This is not a good state of affairs for anyone, especially the vulnerable people being eaten.

At this point, we can say that Facebook is officially toxic. It needs to be regulated and broken up in the countries that have the power, and just banned in the countries that don’t. By doing nothing, Mark Zuckerberg has chosen a side. Mark Zuckerberg stands for politicans and paid ads. People are going to have to stand up for themselves.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. indi@indi.ca. Videos: tiny.cc/indication. Patreon: patreon.com/indication

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store