Mike Hosking: When it comes to fake news, social media just doesn't care

Author
Mike Hosking,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 12 September 2019, 2:56PM
(Photo / 123RF)

Facebook announced last week that they are tidying up their act next year in the US presidential race, they are tightening the rules around advertising. As I have discovered lately, you can literally say anything you want on Facebook and they don’t care.

There have been the ads with my face on them claiming all sorts of things, a lot of it around Bitcoin. I have been astounded at how gullible people are in believing some of it. One of the ads had me taken off to jail. Obviously I am not in jail and this is not being broadcast  from a cell, but people in the comments section seemed genuinely sucked in. (Some said it was the best place for me…)

When we ring Facebook, they feign a combination of surprise and concern. They offer to take the ads down, and as soon as they do, more pop up. They claim the only way to get them off the platform is to tell them they are there. In other words you’re doing their job for them.

How then are they tightening up the rules around the American presidential race? Do they expect Trump to tweet them with a list of dodgy ads?

The Russians are after Facebook and Google too. Just this week, they claimed interference in their local elections. Once again Facebook runs out the same old line: they don’t support dodgy advertising, and the Russians should talk to those who are taking out the ads.

Should they? Why? Why doesn’t Facebook talk to them?

And this is why poor old Jacinda has been sucked in by the likes of Jack Dorsey at Twitter. He of course isn't really even a major player in any of this, but its become transparently obvious, they could not care less.

They have worked out over a period of time that the worst that can happen is they get occasionally subpoenaed in front of a senate or commons committee, and often they don’t even turn up for those. Occasionally someone like the EU fines them, they pay it and carry on.

They’re not getting banned, they’re getting told off, a finger wagged and ultimately nothing changes.

And we help. Has anyone given up Facebook or changed the way they tweet or use social media? Of course not, and nor will we.

Why? Because it would be inconvenient, we don’t see ourselves as being able to actually achieve anything tangible. If entire countries can’t handle it, how can we. And that, I am afraid, is the simple truth. These guys are bigger than countries.

Because countries have borders and they don’t, and countries don’t, cant and won’t agree unilaterally on bans or action.

I think the best thing we can do is adjust ourselves to this is, one, accept they’re fundamentally dishonest operators who don’t operate under laws and rules. Two, sadly they don’t even really want to try. Three, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Four, the horse has bolted so trying to retrospectively rehouse it is pointless. And five, when they say they’re tightening up rules for the presidential race, laugh, because its crap.

I'm not in jail and they’re not changing.

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