Meta has been at it again. It deactivated 363 Facebook accounts of Cuban users, in addition to 270 pages and 229 groups, as well as 72 from Instagram. The operation covered other social networks such as YouTube, TikTok and Twitter, and included hundreds of pages of Bolivian citizens. As is often the case, it hit two leftist governments without providing any evidence of violation of the platforms’ community policies.
What’s new in this raid? Little, actually. It is not the first time it happens. Zuckerberg’s transnational is under the dictates of U.S. government figures, particularly groups associated with the Cuban-American gang in Florida. Facebook’s director of public affairs, Alex Burgos, previously worked for Senator Marco Rubio and was his campaign manager in 2016. Putting Burgos to watch over transparency and free speech in the Facebook jungle is like asking the fox to guard the chickens, and another sign of the company’s decline.
The attack against countries that are not to Washington’s liking expresses in its most prosaic version the metastasis that corrodes Meta. It is not a sign of strength, but of extreme weakness of the platform. The announcement of the blocked accounts from Cuba and Bolivia attempts to divert attention from the new round of layoffs at the company, which will probably affect between 5 percent and 10 percent of its employees. A bloodletting that is not new. Cuts already occurred within Facebook in November, when Meta enacted its first massive layoff, getting rid of 11,000 workers.
Frances Haugen, former head of product in Facebook’s civic integrity team, recommended last week to potential investors in the telecommunications sector to stay as far away from Meta as possible. For the past two years, she has been denouncing the company as not only a financial danger, but also a social problem that threatens the mental health and civic life of citizens around the world.
In 2021, Haugen delivered thousands of internal Facebook documents to Congress to back up this view before panels of stunned lawmakers. The platform’s internal emails she showed prove how Facebook’s top brass knew that the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica stole unsuspecting users’ data to manipulate the electorate in favor of Brexit in the UK and Donald Trump in the US. Just two months ago Meta agreed to pay $725 million to settle a data breach legal action linked to Cambridge Analytica, and this is the largest monetary award ever achieved in a class action lawsuit for privacy violations, according to lawyers involved in the case.
Frances Haugen’s emails prove that Mark Zuckerberg is perfectly aware that his algorithms reward the most toxic content, favor hate speech and amplify disinformation, ethnic cleansing and voter fraud campaigns. Also, that it has the tools to avoid it and has decided not to use them to keep its colossal profits at a good pace.
However, luck is no longer with Zuckerberg. In 2022 Meta’s growth slowed significantly, with the social platform adding just under 50 million active users. For a man who told Time magazine in 2014 that his goal was to connect every human on the planet, this drop is significant and worries his shareholders and investors. The company today is valued at its lowest level since 2017 and has had losses of nearly $700 billion in the last year.
To make matters worse, Zuckerberg’s Metaverse is a nebulous project and a strange bet that has lost interest. Despite the hurried promises of billions of dollars in investments, the hiring of armies of developers to create the future of the Internet and the marketing that tried to generate the self-fulfilling prophecy of an immersive Internet, the Metaverse has gone down the drain, layoffs are the order of the day and the whole company seems to be on the verge of shipwreck, flailing against Cuba and Bolivia. Meta is in full metastasis.