Facebook’s Ongoing Denials and Deflection

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The New York Times has published a damning article on Facebook’s various responses to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, the rise in hate speech, and various privacy snafus.

When Facebook users learned last spring that the company had compromised their privacy in its rush to expand, allowing access to the personal information of tens of millions of people to a political data firm linked to President Trump, Facebook sought to deflect blame and mask the extent of the problem.

And when that failed — as the company’s stock price plummeted and it faced a consumer backlash — Facebook went on the attack.

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

While I still use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family, my activity has decreased considerably in recent months — something I plan to write about a bit more in the coming weeks. But I fully agree with Manton Reece when he writes: “Having your own domain name for blog posts and photos isn’t just about personal independence from the control of massive social networks. Owning our content is key to the way out of the current social network mess.”

If and when social media giants like Facebook ever disappear, it’ll be a net positive for humanity. (Though it’s a safe bet that something equally egregious will come along.)

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