In Private Meeting, Facebook Exec Warns News Outlets To Cooperate Or End Up Dying In ‘Hospice’
Above Photo: Facebook admitted Wednesday that “most” of its 2 million users likely had their personal information collected by “malicious actors.” (Photo: Legal Loop)
Facebook has removed TeleSUR English’s FB page for the second time this year without any specific reason being provided. It should be noted that the first time this occurred back in January 2018, Facebook did NOT provide any explanation in spite of our best efforts to understand their rationale.
Last week, Facebook removed the page of Venezuela Analysis. They described the action as being “arbitrarily ;unpublished’ by Facebook with no warning or explanation, apart from a standard message informing us that we had allegedly violated the company’s terms and conditions.”
Both publications have been critical of US imperialism in Latin America, most recently in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Venezuela Analysis has been critical of media coverage of the assassination attempt against President Nicolas Maduro. Both these publications are highly credible sources of news especially on Latin America and Venezuela respectively.
The Intercept reported that Facebook was censoring pages advocating for Palestinian human rights on the advice of Israel. Glenn Greenwald reports that Facebook is “explicitly admitting that it also intends to follow the censorship orders of the U.S. government.” Greenwald summarizes the problem:
“What this means is obvious: that the U.S. government — meaning, at the moment, the Trump administration — has the unilateral and unchecked power to force the removal of anyone it wants from Facebook and Instagram by simply including them on a sanctions list. Does anyone think this is a good outcome? Does anyone trust the Trump administration — or any other government — to compel social media platforms to delete and block anyone it wants to be silenced?”
The New York Times reported in December of 2017, “Israeli security agencies monitor Facebook and send the company posts they consider incitement. Facebook has responded by removing most of them.” They report that “Within weeks of meeting with Israeli officials, Facebook suspended the accounts of seven journalists from two Palestinian news agencies said to have extremist ties. The journalists said they had been suppresse…” In response the jornalists forced Facebook to reverse their decision with an online protest with the hashtag #FBcensorsPalestine.
The Independent reported that Facebook was targeting Palesinian journalists. They wrote the “Palestinian Information Center reported that at least 10 of their administrators’ accounts for their Arabic and English Facebook pages — followed by more than 2 million people — have been suspended, seven of them permanently, which they say is a result of new measures put in place in the wake of Facebook’s meeting with Israel.”
Another source for Facebook censorship is the Atlantic Council, which is funded by Western governments, Gulf autocratic regimes, NATO, various branches of the US military, and a number of major defense contractors and corporations, provide Facebook with a four-person team to assist them in censorship. Reuters reports that the group’s work has already been instrumental in Facebook taking action against over two dozen “suspicious pages” flagged potential foreign actors such as Russia.
Zero Hedge reports “Facebook employees said privately over the past several months that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions, leaving fact-checking to media groups and geopolitics to think tanks.” Further, “Facebook has defended the process as part of ensuring that it remains politically neutral, yet clearly the Atlantic Council itself is hardly neutral, as a quick perusal of its top donors indicates.” KZ
“Anyone who does care about news needs to understand Facebook as a fundamental threat.”
During a closed-door and off-the-record meeting last week, top Facebook executive Campbell Brown reportedly warned news publishers that refusal to cooperate with the tech behemoth’s efforts to “revitalize journalism” will leave media outlets dying “like in a hospice.”
“We desperately need to develop alternative delivery mechanisms to Facebook.”
—Judd Legum, ThinkProgress
Reported first by The Australian under a headline which read “Work With Facebook or Die: Zuckerberg,” the social media giant has insisted the comments were taken out of context, even as five individuals who attended the four-hour meeting corroborated what Brown had stated.
“Mark doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes,” Brown reportedly said, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We will help you revitalize journalism… in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding hands with your dying business like in a hospice.”
As The Guardian reported on Monday, Facebook is “vehemently” denying the veracity of the comments as reported by The Australian, referring to its own transcript of the meeting. However, Facebook is refusing to release its transcript and tape of the gathering.
Facebook is saying these comments didn’t happen but The Australian has an explosive story on the company’s position with publishers. Five people at the meeting confirmed these comments and the company has tape of the conversation that it will not release. pic.twitter.com/dzcGOUDl2k
— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) August 13, 2018
Brown’s warning about the dire prospects for news outlets that don’t get on board with a future in which corporate giants like Facebook are the arbiters of what is and isn’t trustworthy news comes as progressives are raising alarm that Facebook’s entrance into the world of journalism poses a major threat to non-corporate and left-wing news outlets.
As Common Dreams reported in July, progressives’ fears were partly confirmed after Facebook unveiled its first slate of news “segments” as part of its Facebook Watch initiative.
While Facebook claims its initiative is part of an effort to combat “misinformation,” its first series of segments were dominated by such corporate outlets as Fox News and CNN.
Reacting to Brown’s reported assertion that Zuckerberg “doesn’t care about publishers,” Judd Legum, who writes the Popular Information newsletter, argued, “Anyone who does care about news needs to understand Facebook as a fundamental threat.”
“In addition to disputed quote, there are also Facebook’s actions, which are fully consistent with the quote,” Legum added. “We desperately need to develop alternative delivery mechanisms to Facebook.”