Posted by & filed under Ethical issues, Facebook.

Facebook, the self-appointed governor of the public sphere, simply can’t be trusted to be the steward of our social discourse that it purports to be, writes Navneet Alang.
It sounds like something out of a bad Hollywood movie. But as recently revealed by the Washington Post, Facebook has been paying a Republican consulting firm to seed negative stories about its competitor TikTok.
Congratulations, Facebook. If you were trying to further the image of yourself as a cartoon villain, well done.
The hired firm, Targeted Victory, was enlisted by Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant to paint TikTok as not only a threatening foreign company but a danger to American children and families.


The scheme worked by pushing dubious stories of dangerous trends spreading on TikTok to local news outlets, that would in turn happily pass on the scaremongering. What’s more, letters to the editor expressing concern over TikTok would appear in publications such as the Denver Post, forming a sort of astroturfing campaign on behalf of one of the world’s richest companies.
No public claims about Targeted Victory’s links to Facebook or parent company Meta were made. Those letters to the editor appeared to simply come “from a concerned parent.”

Source: Toronto Star

Date: March 31st, 2022

Link: https://www.thestar.com/business/opinion/2022/04/02/social-media-is-too-important-to-public-discourse-to-let-facebook-call-the-shots.html

Discussion

  1. Is it actually illegal for Facebook to pay a consulting firm to essentially make up stories about a rival, TikTok in this case, that put them in a bad light?
  2. The author suggests that Facebook should not be left to it’s own supervision. Which government agency should be responsible for overseeing Facebook (and others)?

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