Much can be said about the current stink between Facebook and the Australian government, or, as is the case, the Australian people. Our intrepid leader, Barry Spall has said most of it. But not all.
For instance, a current hashtag trend is underway to #Delete Facebook. Isn’t the irony in that delicious. Here it was, the choice, along with Twitter, of the canceller’s cancelling platform. Now it’s being cancelled. That’s got its place in a reworking of the ancient proverb, Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword. He who Cancels, shall himself be Cancelled. We like that.
It is precisely so because Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has ‘cancelled’ Australia that his appropriated multi-billion dollar empire is about to be cancelled, not just by Australians, but if he doesn’t yield, by the rest of the world. We’d like to think so, that’s probably not how it will pan out. Nevertheless.
Hubris has been his undoing, and the world is looking on in astonishment at the chutzpah of this tech-oligarch. It’s as though China had sunk a Japanese naval vessel that challenged one of its militarised fishing fleet for straying into sovereign waters.
Facebook didn’t just shut down news links, it blocked community pages, pages from emergency services, and those unfortunate souls who had the lack of vision to operate businesses from its megalomaniacal platform. It has adopted China’s belligerent attitude and now everyone is in a tizzy. Oh, but how could they not have seen this coming.
The basic principle is, as our Editor-in-chief has argued, sound. If you use someone’s content to gather revenue, then you should throw a cut of the lolly their way. Facebook says no, that it’s not a publisher, it’s only “sharing” the content. But it won’t split the profits it makes from sharing that content. Which it didn’t pay for.
Now, we are hardly about to empathise with the mainstream media. We can take that attitude and, let’s face it, we do. But if we behave like an objective observer we must adjudicate against Facebook, not just out of a well-deserved bias, but on the basic principles of fair play.
Facebook has been accused of being lenient to both poles of the ideological gulf dividing the Western world. But it’s just played its own game. That is, up until it became a ‘generous’ donor to Joe Biden’s election campaign. At that time, it shut down Donald Trump and all of his supporters. It vetted any pro-Trump page, group, or individual. It only allowed one stream of influence.
Bearing in mind, the collateral damage in this thing. World-citizens (sic) have become so dependent upon Facebook that it’s likely to be the first place they learn about a bushfire, or a flood, or perhaps even a deranged shooter roaming up and down their street with an arsenal of high-tech weaponry.
He is, in effect, endangering lives. But have those lives also endangered themselves by subscribing to the platform? By ignoring the plethora of negatives that have surrounded this social media behemoth?
If one is in a position where their life is jeopardised then the answer is surely yes. Indeed. All the eggs in one basket and all that. Bloody silly. They offered up their throats willingly and just to prove his power, Zuckerberg cut them. Yet, he also cut his own throat, since by doing so he has revealed the arrogance of this tech giant and admitted the worst fears of those democratically-minded fools who’ve so far enabled his platform.
Criticism has been strong from those who’ve most likely benefitted from Facebook’s algorithms and censorship. There is the argument about the monetizing and the rights and wrongs of paying for content, as well as the case of the democratic principle. Funny how democracy invariably intersects with commercial concerns.
The main thrust of this thing is that Facebook must yield. It has to. There is no other choice. It must know this but figured that with a losing hand, what the hell, it might just as well kick over the table and spill the opponent’s cards and chips. Why not. It’s not like they can send Zuckerberg to the naughty chair.
Wouldn’t it simply be good business to shave off a smidgin of the enormous profits Facebook sees to please a market? But that’s entirely where we’re at with this tech giant. Which brings us to the nationalist position.
Facebook is not, nor has ever been a friend to nationalists. It isn’t even a mate to those who aren’t nationalists but who just exist in that nebulous area that distrusts government and questions immigration. Our people have been trolled, doxed, harassed and arrested. It has bred rats, ingrates, tyrants and all manner of an online nuisance. It removed our material with the generic note about ‘Breaching community standards’. What standards? What community? It has so many.
This has happened with as simple a reply to a post as ‘Amen’. Much material is removed that couldn’t possibly offend even the most offendable SJW. Much of it was eliminated without a review by a human moderator. Algorithms again. Deaf to all feeble protestations and that was usually the result: the peeved posting about how peeved they are that Facebook deleted their harmless post. It never got them anywhere. Not with Mr Algorithm and the smartarses who manipulated him. Which is what it came down to, a cabal of heroic Antis colluding to put the mockers on somebody or a page they didn’t like by repetitiously reporting it in unison. It was an effective tactic. It worked.
And so much for all that. Is this the end of Facebook? Hardly, is it the beginning of the end? Probably. Almost certainly. But mainly not for the reasons we’ve outlaid. People will just grow tired of it as they did with MySpace. Something else will come along. Yet, nothing Zuckerberg is doing will help his company. It’s already losing crucial percentage points on the market. When Australia gets is way, and it has a high possibility of forcing a negotiation, then the rest of the world will follow suit. Even Pago Pago. Or somewhere more remote like that little dot at the far end of the Pacific where nobody much visits except American military scientists clad in hazmat suits and carrying Geiger counters.
They will all want Facebook to cough up. What’s Zucc gonna do then, shut down the world? Cancel earth and use his ill-gotten shekels to conquer Mars? It wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The truth of the matter is that it’s a sordid discussion in its entirety. Those of us old enough to have remembered the optimistic days when the Internet was a mysterious new portal full of dynamic and revolutionary possibilities – ended up with William Gibson’s dour dystopian estimates.
None of this crap should cost us anything and it shouldn’t be owned by dickheads like Zuckerberg. Amazon. Google. Nope, it should all belong, to the people, to make of it what they will. It’s a long way already from its intended purpose as a means of military communication in the event of a nuclear conflict. Now it’s a carnival for kiddy fiddlers, scam artists, drug dealers, nonces, nincompoops, would-be Hitlers, tightarse media barons, the CIA, the FBI, ASIO, MI5, Five Eyes, Four Eyes, Russian spies, Chinese spies, Lithuanian spies, negroes who put Gorilla glue in their hair, narcissistic girls, creepy guys, Zionists, Islamists, black supremacists, anarchists, fairies, poofters, hairy dykes, transexual freakazoids, influencers, brats, bigheads, nitwits, show ponies, hayseeds, know-it-alls, eggheads, meatheads, morons and arseholes. If you pardon our cussing.
This is an argument between greedheads. We get nothing out of it, and we don’t need any of it anyway. The real world is outside the window. There, in the perennial light of day.