Social media has turned out to be a key tool in furthering political agendas and swaying public opinions. Politicians are slowly learning to use it to help with their campaigns or find dirt on their competitors. However, recent reports have suggested that politicians may just be abusing loopholes in the policies of these platforms.
A former data scientist from Facebook, Sophie Zhang, has brought to light that Governments and politicians are using loopholes in Facebook’s policies to create fake activity and show fake support in order to intimidate their competitors. Facebook seems less reliable day by day.
The testimony by Zhang suggests that Facebook selectively chooses which activity to take action against. Meaning it deals with them in a way to sway politics in wealthy countries like the US, South Korea, and Taiwan. While it acts swiftly when it comes to rich countries, it outright ignores similar reports in poor countries like Iraq, Mexico, Afghanistan, and most of Latin America.
The loophole concerns the usage of pages. Multiple pages are created to create fake supporters to make governments appear popular. Now, we know Facebook bans people from creating multiple accounts but pages can be easily be disguised to look like an individual. According to Zhang “There is a lot of harm being done on Facebook that is not being responded to because it is not considered enough of a PR risk to Facebook. he cost isn’t borne by Facebook. It’s borne by the broader world as a whole.”
You can look at a video below of Zhang’s talks with Guardian News.
In response to Zhang’s allegations that Facebook seems to base its priorities to sway politics, spokesperson Liz Bourgeois said “We fundamentally disagree with Ms. Zhang’s characterization of our priorities and efforts to root out abuse on our platform. We aggressively go after abuse around the world and have specialized teams focused on this work”.
This seems like mass information control and what’s alarming is that it is done by a single entity.
Being able to sway politics in so many countries is a lot of power in this day and age, where information can be disseminated instantly without any kind of verification of its factuality.
The loophole itself is also alarming, creating fake support for political agendas that may have little support in reality.