What Should We Fear More in the Current Digital Age? Russia or Facebook?
Despite the 2016 American election, the UK Parliament is not asking Facebook about the Influence Russia had on Brexit voting. Facebook, which has now become extremely powerful on a global level, has recently acknowledged Russian efforts to influence the national election in both the US and in France.
The New York Times found a recent study that shows that there were ‘13,493 suspected “bot” accounts that appeared to send out automated messages related to the referendum in the run-up to the vote but were removed in its immediate aftermath’. Facebook also has acknowledged that Russian agents bought ads on its platform during the 2016 presidential election in favour of Donald Trump, and sought content to influence the election by sparking racial issues and social tensions online.
What is unclear is the direct motives of the Russian influence on the politics of the powerhouse countries of the Western World, the boundaries that social media platforms like Facebook cross and how they have both attained so much power.
Not to mention that Facebook has also just introduced its own free internet service to 37 countries. This offers a ‘free’, limited package of apps to mobile phone users. This has been criticised by the Guardian as, “digital colonialism” because of its lacking ability to allow users to actually use the internet to create freely. Instead, the article claims that ‘there are no other social networking sites apart from Facebook and no email provider.’ This is proof that Facebook is only focused on one thing; its investors. Their goal of bringing ‘free internet’ to places like Ghana and Kenya seems again misguided, misinformed and micromanaging. The more apparent goal of the service seems to be getting their eyes on as much information as possible. This concept of ‘digital colonialism’ isn’t far off from propaganda. These ads, political or not, are tainted with intentions that are doing anything but benefiting the poor. Similar to Facebook’s ability to educate the generation of the digital age on politics and current affairs, it seems that the content is constantly incorrect or made up – for some other bigger reason no one seems to be able to wrap their head around.
Since Trump stepped foot in the White House, journalism has in many ways been defeated. No one felt as if they could trust any of the ‘news’ that was being published, because of the scandal that is on the horizon between Facebook & Russia.
For example, Trump has tweeted lies such as claiming that “DEAD PEOPLE” helped get Obama in the White House. Then Trump went on to say that “millions of people voted illegally.” Meanwhile Trump will then constantly blame the media, confusing his own people of what the truth is when it comes to public interests like; healthcare, economy ,the opioid crisis and much more. Still, journalists have still failed to find the link between Facebook, Russia and the US. Since then, this poltergeist of propaganda on our most trusted social media apps has entered its way into France and the UK – and this has all happened within a year.
Should a company like Facebook be allowed to control so much of the world’s communications? Society isn’t blind to see faults in having a name like Murdoch own all broadcasting platforms, for the sake of a bias. But when it comes to Facebook, what should be the limit?