For those that make the fervent case that we need Facebook in the business of deleting fake news, I give you in response a perfect example of why we don’t want that. It’s a rather short road from policing fake news to policing all reasonable speech. As we’ve previously written, Facebook (specifically Zuckerberg) has been in the sucking up to China’s dictatorship business for some time now.
And how! Courtesy of the New York Times (who like the Post occasionally bothers to engage in actual journalism):
The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.
How would this delightful tool of oppression work?
Well, for example, say a belligerent blog author took it upon himself to publish some thoughts on how Xi Jinping, Dictator & Overlord of the Chinese People, rose to power as one of the most corrupt dudes on the planet to the tune of billions in cash. And made the point that Xi’s current anti-corruption campaign is the biggest hypocrisy since Stalin called Hitler “a bad bloke”. Xi and his family made billions, but now Xi’s suddenly a paragon of virtue. So one can only come to the conclusion that he’s using anti-corruption efforts to purge those who oppose him.
Then say said blog author posted that on Facebook. And then say one of that blog’s six demented followers liked that post? Well, using Zuckerberg’s fancy new tool, Xi’s goons could preconfigure the system so that it would automatically purge from the planet. Nobody in China would ever read those words because the following terms would not be allowed in any post seen in China:
Dictator & Overlord
Delicious Stout Beer
Amateur Jai-Alai Extraordinaire
You know, one can occasionally hate Google equally as a partial anti-liberty bully. But on this count, Google’s conduct has been quite admirable. For well over half-a-decade Google has fought China on censorship. The result is Google’s profits and scope in China are in the tank. But at least they’ve made a stand. In contrast Zuckerberg is just drooling for those extra one billion eyeballs, because $. And if freedom of speech loses in the process? Oh well.
I don’t understand this line of thinking. If you’re in the free speech business, how do you ultimately increase your future bottom line by getting into the anti-free speech business? That’d be like Coca Cola sending an employee into the White House to restock the machines with Coke, then he goes into the Oval Office to campaign for an ultra-tax on sugary drinks. Zuckerberg’s behavior makes no sense. That is, unless you see it through the lens of Silicon’s Valley’s cynical elite. As in, Zuckerberg and Xi are both in the extreme 0.1% of all humanity. And that means they have more in common with each other than the rest of us. So they think they can cut a deal, and damn the consequences.
My final point, any company should be wary of selling its soul to do business in China. It’s a trap. If Facebook got into China without restrictions tomorrow, it’d probably get it’s clock cleaned by China’s own businesses. Uber China no longer exists for a reason. If the vicious-rule-breaking-barbarians at Uber can’t even break into the Chinese market, what chance does Facebook (or anybody else) have? WeChat already has 700 million Chinese users and is specifically tailored to China’s users, by folks who live there and understand the culture. Zuckerberg can’t compete with that. But he appears happy to mortgage his honor to try.
Uh [shakes head], the problem with comical Bond villains is that in cold reality, outside the scope of fun movies, they’re actually dreadful oppressors.
Hat tip, to the Facebook employee who’s honor is intact, for leaking this info to the New York Times. We who are free, salute you.
“Why yes Mr Xi, yes Sir! I am selling out. Are you buying?”