11 May 2022

Speaking of Faceberg

In response to a proposal in Australia to institute a link tax, it appears that the criminal enterprise now known as Meta deliberately shut dozens of Australian organizations out in order to intimidate Canberra.

Seriously.  No one should have this much power, even if we are all wise, all men an women of understanding, and all learned in Torah:

Last year when Facebook blocked news in Australia in response to potential legislation making platforms pay publishers for content, it also took down the pages of Australian hospitals, emergency services and charities. It publicly called the resulting chaos “inadvertent.”

Internally, the pre-emptive strike was hailed as a strategic masterstroke.

Facebook documents and testimony filed to U.S. and Australian authorities by whistleblowers allege that the social-media giant deliberately created an overly broad and sloppy process to take down pages—allowing swaths of the Australian government and health services to be caught in its web just as the country was launching Covid vaccinations.

The goal, according to the whistleblowers and documents, was to exert maximum negotiating leverage over the Australian Parliament, which was voting on the first law in the world that would require platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for content.

Let me clarify my position here, one which I share with Cory Doctorow:  There is no need for a link tax, and it will be incredibly destructive to the open internet, "Big tech isn’t stealing news publishers’ content, it’s stealing their money.

Going after the fraudulent and oligopolistic online ad industry would do a lot more while allowing fair use of people's creative content.

Despite saying it was targeting only news outlets, the company deployed an algorithm for deciding what pages to take down that it knew was certain to affect more than publishers, according to the documents and people familiar with the matter.

It didn’t notify affected pages in advance they would be blocked or provide a system for them to appeal once they were.

The documents also show multiple Facebook employees tried to raise alarms about the impact and offer possible solutions, only to receive a minimal or delayed response from the leaders of the team in charge.

F%$#ing their users in order to f%$# Australia was a feature, not a bug.

After five days that caused disorder throughout the country, Australia’s Parliament amended the proposed law to the degree that, a year after its passage, its most onerous provisions haven’t been applied to Facebook or its parent company, Meta Platforms Inc.

“We landed exactly where we wanted to,” wrote Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of partnerships, who pressed for the company’s aggressive stance, in a congratulatory email to her team minutes after the Australian Senate voted to approve the watered-down bill at the end of February 2021.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg chimed in with congratulations as well, with Ms. Sandberg praising the “thoughtfulness of the strategy” and “precision of execution.”


Instead of using Facebook’s long-established database of existing news publishers, called News Page Index, the newly assembled team developed a crude algorithmic news classifier that ensured more than just news would be caught in the net, according to documents and the people familiar with the matter. “If 60% of [sic] more of a domain’s content shared on Facebook is classified as news, then the entire domain will be considered a news domain,” stated one internal document. The algorithm didn’t distinguish between pages of news producers and pages that shared news.


The team also created a timeline for how it would roll out the takedown that showed it intended to launch before an appeals process was ready, the documents show. The move didn’t follow typical procedure, according to the people familiar with the takedown.

Unfortunately, Silicon Valley Tech Bros, and I am including the Lean In Girl Sheryl Sandburg in this group, are people who have largely been born on 3rd base and thought that they hit a triple, and are now convinced that they are the super men from a trashy Ayn Rand novel (But I repeat myself) who think themselves above the law.

This will not end unless and until the powerful are held to account, and tried and imprisoned for their crimes.


Quasit said...

The system will NEVER hold them to account, you know.

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