Facebook created “Project P” — for propaganda — in the hectic weeks after the 2016 presidential election and quickly found dozens of pages that had peddled false news reports ahead of Donald Trump’s surprise victory. Nearly all were based overseas, had financial motives and displayed a clear rightward bent.
In a world of perfect neutrality, which Facebook espouses as its goal, the political tilt of the pages shouldn’t have mattered. But in a videoconference between Facebook’s Washington office and its Silicon Valley headquarters in December 2016, the company’s most senior Republican, Joel Kaplan, voiced concerns that would become familiar to those within the company.
“We can’t remove all of it because it will disproportionately affect conservatives,” said Kaplan, a former George W. Bush White House official and now the head of Facebook’s Washington office, according to people familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect professional relationships.
I’m old enough to remember how Republicans successfully cowed pre-internet mainstream media outlets with bullshit accusations of bias. That led directly to the utterly dysfunctional, view-from-nowhere Fourth Estate we have today.
It’s happening again, and as we’re learning, it’s impossible to maintain a functioning democracy when distinctions between truth and lies are erased. Glad I deleted my account in 2016, and here’s hoping the next Democrat in a position to do so cracks down on these shitty companies.