Why, oh WHY, was this not making the headlines back when it really mattered?
Nine days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “crazy” the idea that fake news on his company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election, President Barack Obama pulled the youthful tech billionaire aside and delivered what he hoped would be a wake-up call.
For months leading up to the vote, Obama and his top aides quietly agonized over how to respond to Russia’s brazen intervention on behalf of the Donald Trump campaign without making matters worse. Weeks after Trump’s surprise victory, some of Obama’s aides looked back with regret and wished they had done more.
Now huddled in a private room on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in Lima, Peru, two months before Trump’s inauguration, Obama made a personal appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously, though the president did not single out Russia specifically. Unless Facebook and the government did more to address the threat, Obama warned, it would only get worse in the next presidential race.
Zuckerberg acknowledged the problem posed by fake news. But he told Obama that those messages weren’t widespread on Facebook and that there was no easy remedy, according to people briefed on the exchange, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of a private conversation.
The conversation on Nov. 19 was a flashpoint in a tumultuous year in which Zuckerberg came to recognize the magnitude of a new threat — a coordinated assault on a U.S. election by a shadowy foreign force that exploited the social network he created.
Like the U.S. government, Facebook didn’t foresee the wave of disinformation that was coming and the political pressure that followed. The company then grappled with a series of hard choices designed to shore up its own systems without impinging on free discourse for its users around the world.
Of course, even His Barackness was way late off the mark with this one. He had been “quietly agonizing” for MONTHS? Why did he not take a leaf from the enemy’s book and immediately get on the media in every possible venue to denounce fake news on Facebook? Hell, he could even have done so on his own Facebook page! Or his @POTUS Twitter account. Donnie certainly wasn’t shy about denouncing “fake news” (which, of course, isn’t so fake) on HIS tweeter. In fact, that’s all he ever does, especially now, with his reputation in the toilet. He’s too busy retweeting crappy animations and photoshops and fauxtrage by fascist trolls to be bothered with the nitty-gritty of actually living and working at the White House instead of puttering around on one of his butt-ugly golf courses. I’m not saying that Obama should have been out there retweeting fawning messages and glurge from his followers, but could he not have at least issued an official warning about the danger of all those pro-Drumpf mushroom sites from Macedonia? It’s not as though he didn’t have a legit following big enough to make it go instantly viral…
But no. That wouldn’t have been No-Drama’s style, would it? “They go low, we go high” — yeah, brilliant move. That just gave the rats ample space to stampede in between his shiny-shod feet. To outwit a rat, you have to think like a rat…and keep a herd of cats. Not take to the back channel with a barely-adult frat bro like Fuckerberg, who is more committed to Freeze Peach (and the deep pockets of Peter Thiel) than he is to rule of law, fairness, honesty, transparency, and all that other pesky democratic governance shit.
Aaand now, thanks to all that fake news — of Russian provenance or good ol’ Bush-league home-grown dumbassery — AND thanks to Facebook’s strangely selective commitment to freedom of speech — the US of Amnesia has a fake president. And a very real problem with its so-called democracy. One which has turned the country itself into one of those banana republics they used to control, back when the CIA was in charge of Latin America.
And whether or not he was behind Dotard Drumpf’s fake election, ol’ Pooty-Poot is laughing all the way to his gangster cronies’ bank.