SUMMARY: At what point do social-media giants start to become their own authoritarian states? The platforms where I’ve gone to learn and vent about Russia’s influence on our democracy have themselves been overtaken by an Americanized type of totalitarianism. And we only know about 5% of what’s actually happened.
— Will Help You Pronounce ‘Ghislaine’ Correctly (@bywillpollock) October 13, 2017
By being silent, I want to show we will not be silenced.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, among others, have all been implicated in the Trump-Russia investigation. Just today we learned Twitter received $800M in a “significant round of funding” from a Russian investment firm DST Global.
Facebook got a similar infusion from DST’s Russian Ka-jillionaire, Yury Milner, in 2009—magazines like Forbes have heaped “greatest living business mind” praise upon him like he’s Crowned Prince of Narnia. The Mark Zuckerberg-led social media giant also has received deserved scorn for “losing” data gleaned from CrowdTangle, a social-media metrics company that Facebook recently acquired.
This data—mined by journalists, non-profits and activists to attempt to report out Russia’s reach in its disinformation campaign—conveniently disappeared. Vanished, it seems, after an examination of only a small fraction of the Russia-funded FB pages in question resulted in hundreds of millions of interactions. From the Washington Post:
Given that Albright was working with just six pages out of 470, it was clear to him that the Russian campaign reached far beyond the 10 million people Facebook had acknowledged saw the ads alone. He even discovered a single Russian-backed Instagram account associated with LGBT United that had reached nearly 10 million on its own.
Which brings me to Instagram, another Facebook-owned entity. Fast Company has done exhaustive research on how similar campaigns have reached the image-sharing network. And—shocker!—IG is being just as opaque and cagey with its explanations.
Some now-suspended Instagram accounts shared many attributes with the Russia-linked pages that Facebook says blasted out messages to millions of users before and after last year’s U.S. election. On Instagram, users @secured_borders, @_blacktivistt_, and @rainbow_nation_us often included the same watermark logos, messages, and imagery that appeared on Facebook pages with similar names and themes (Secured.Borders, Blacktivists, LGBT Nation).
As I’m gearing up to do my third Pizza for Good event in San Diego, I’m going dark on all three sites in protest. I will logout of ALL and not go back until Monday. As an independent journalist, I rely on social media sharing and interactions to get my content seen. To sell books. To win blog subscribers; to build my author platform and attempt to reach larger audiences.
I will NOT be party to American companies that have allowed themselves to be enchanted and co-opted by a hostile regime.
I’m going to have some difficult internal discussions about what to do with my social media footprint for the rest of 2017, next year and beyond. But we’ll bookmark that for a later time.
I will NOT be party to American companies that have allowed themselves to be overtaken by a hostile regime. Money has a strange way of engendering quiet loyalty in people and companies, even if the recipients of that cash disavow their funders until the cows come home. You’ll forgive me for being skeptical.
— Will Help You Pronounce ‘Ghislaine’ Correctly (@bywillpollock) February 22, 2017
I’m also going dark on Twitter specifically in support of actress Rose McGowan and her treatment by the social media company. She was temporarily suspended for tweeting a personal phone number. They have since unblocked her, but here’s my issue: Donald Trump is using twitter to call for the incidental, casual murder of 20 million people on the Korean Peninsula and he’s not banned on Twitter, why exactly?
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) October 12, 2017
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) October 13, 2017
Double-standards do not just lie in the sources of American corporate funding. It’s also about silencing people using constantly changing metrics and standards, and employing tactics only seen in authoritarian regimes. I’ve been shut out of my Twitter ad account for reasons the company refuses to explain. But it doesn’t fucking matter anymore.
I will NEVER again pay Twitter or Facebook a single penny to promote an ad. Never again. This means my message might not reach as many folks as I’d like, but it sends a message that this type of behavior is totally freakin’ unacceptable.
I’ll leave you with an introduction to a cutout my nephew Zach did of Donald Trump. The creation perfectly encapsulates an angry, one-dimensional dictator who could ruin us all.
My blog will continue. My efforts to sell books and raise my voice will continue. Life will go on. But I will never be silent when it comes to American confederates behaving badly. And for that, there should always be consequences. 🔵
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