Do not trust billionaires. Do not trust big corporations. Both owe their existence to a lack of concern for human wellbeing. Whatever their PR teams say, do not look to them for salvation, and do not expect them to have your back when the going gets tough.
The 2016 election gave many Americans a new awareness of the dangers of propaganda. In particular, we had our eyes opened to the ways in which aspects of our daily lives, like Facebook, can be used like puppet strings to control the unwary. Don’t forget that – Facebook was one of the tools used to influence the election and give us President Donald John Trump.
Facebook, of course, ran a spin campaign to convince everybody that they weren’t to blame. It’s currently seen as important for corporations to be viewed as “the good guys”. Facebook announced that they were very, very sorry for their support of propaganda, and that they would be fact-checking things now, so it would all be OK. You may be shocked to learn that all does not be OK.
There were problems right at the beginning. Facebook partnered with The Weekly Standard to conduct its fact checking, but apparently they didn’t think to fact check the Standard before doing that. Or, you know, they’re a large corporation with a financial incentive to support the pro-corporate conservative agenda:
The Weekly Standard has a history of placing right-wing ideology before accurate reporting. Among other things, it labeled the Iraq War “A War to Be Proud Of” in 2005, and it ran an article in 2017 labeling climate science “Dadaist Science,” and promoted that article with the phrase “look under the hood on climate change ‘science’ and what you see isn’t pretty.”
Now Facebook, in partnership with The Weekly Standard, is suppressing Thinkprogress in the name of “facts”, and they’re doing it about an issue that’s of paramount importance – the ongoing hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. See, if a post is rated as false, in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, about 80% of its traffic is cut off.
The article in question makes the claim that Kavanaugh actually did say that he’d vote to overturn Roe v Wade if it came up, but that he basically said it in legalistic jargon. The article chases down Kavanaugh’s own history of statements, as well as the “Glucksberg test” he mentioned in response to Ted Cruz. When you actually have all the context for that moment in the hearing, the meaning is clear: Kavanaugh has no ideological problem with overturning Roe v. Wade, and some ideological motive to do so.
The Weekly Standard, by rating this article false, also basically declared that it’s not valid to infer meaning from the combination of a person’s words and actions. This is dangerous, and very supportive of the conservative movement’s habit of using dog whistles and lies to disguise their intentions, both from the people they hope to persuade, and from each other.
Facebook is now an active participant in the effort to undermine public understanding of reality. When Kavanaugh does his little “shucks, I’m just a dumb country lawyer” routine to avoid answering questions on abortion, Facebook has his back, and will suppress anybody who points out that the legalistic jargon gave a very clear answer to those who could understand it.
This goes beyond this Supreme Court hearing. This goes to discussions of the economy, and hurricane deaths, and most importantly, race. The discussion of race is almost entirely made up of people using euphemism and innuendo, combined with psuedo-science, to push the same bloody ideology of forcibly organizing society based on things like how sunny it was where your ancestors lived.
When white supremacists say “We don’t want violence, just a homeland for the white people”, it looks like Facebook has their back, and will suppress those who point out the lie.
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