Bullying of Facebook by pretentious politicians

THE EDITOR: The hullabaloo concerning the mining of Facebook users’ data is disingenuous indeed. The US government’s expression of alarm has resulted in the convening of a congressional hearing to interrogate the issue. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has decided to replicate this sham. Cambridge Analytica has become an overnight rogue sensation.

In a world in which dirigisme is par for the course, pretentious politicians keep repeating concerns over just two issues: the recent election of Donald Trump to the White House and the surprising – or perhaps disappointing – vote by Britons to leave the European Union.

Mainstream media both in the US and Europe have been using every tool of crowd manipulation available to cast an aura of malfeasance over Trump’s election victory. They have implicated Russia with wild stories of who secretly met who in a flurry of wild, poorly contrived anti-Russia propaganda in the hope of demeaning Trump’s presidency or perhaps even having him impeached.

It is obvious that someone or some group wants him out of the White House. His success at being elected President does not fit with their agenda. Someone called Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher at Cambridge University as reported in the Economist, had “enticed” 270,000 Facebook users to share their data. These people were not enticed. They were paid by the researcher for access to their data. This is normal practice. That data included information – data – on their friends and contacts. All data. Uber routinely sells its data to city planners who wish to gain insight into the flow of traffic within their cities.

Ironically, in all this brouhaha no mention is made of the NSA, the CIA, GCHQ, our local SSA and the myriad other state intelligence agencies that routinely intercept all internet transmissions, subjecting them to language analysis and keyword searches using computer-generated algorithms.

Even former president Barack Obama pretended to ask Apple to allow the US government access to data stored on its phone. Whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed Obama’s request to be hogwash since the US government had already been hacking into Apple phones and using data freely.

Of the existing plethora of data repositories on the internet just one – Facebook – has been targeted. Why?

Facebook is unique. Unlike many of its peers, Facebook does not restrict the length of the message transmitted. And transmission is instantaneous. The site has become anathema to politicians, state officials, their respective agencies but most of all to conventional mainstream media which can no longer easily shape public opinion to fit a planned agenda. Similar dislike has been expressed for Trump’s use of Twitter.

The rapid dissemination of information, the expression of alternative opinion and most of all the exposure of deliberate lies have all been a huge burden on the backs of dissembling politicians. There have not been similar expressions of outrage against monopoly ownership of multiple media houses which allows for the shaping of information according to a preconceived plan. While politicians are quick to condemn Facebook for its “fake news” they say not a word against the fabricated propaganda that unendingly assails us.

Ultimately, the aim seems to be to bully Facebook into rethinking the freedom it allows its users. Politicians are never about empowering ordinary people. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, should tell the hypocrites to take a hike. Rowley should also end his stupid charade.

STEVE SMITH via e-mail


"Bullying of Facebook by pretentious politicians"

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