The counterdemonstration, organized under the banner of “Hate Not Welcome: No Unite The Right 2” was removed by Facebook, who loudly accused the organizers of being paid Russian trolls hoping to stoke American divisions. Except these organizers are actually well-known, American activists, posting from within the USA, about an issue they care deeply about.
Among these genuine, American organizers is Chelsea Manning, the US military veteran and heroic whistleblower, who explained that the protest was “real and organic,” adding “We started organizing several months ago. Folks from D.C. and Charlottesville have been talking about this since at least February.”
It really hasn’t been that long since every progressive cause and event was accused of being a front for Russian fifth columnists and Senator Joe McCarthy was hauling anyone who advocated for a better life for all Americans in front of his House Un-American Activities Committee. Not much has changed. I guess the Democratic establishment finds talking about Russian hackers easier than campaigning on a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, and breaking up the big banks and bringing them to heel.
…at least one of the pages deleted this week was run by a group of real Americans who say they’ve been unfairly targeted by Facebook and falsely accused of being “unwittingly” duped into helping plan a protest scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, less than two weeks from today.
Facebook, for its part, says the page advertising the event was founded by a group whose administrators include some who have been flagged as a potential threats—entities, it says, who are likely trying to influence domestic politics from abroad, as Russian trolls had done two years ago. The real activists, however, say that Facebook, in this case, overshot its mark, overzealous perhaps in its attempt to placate a hostile Congress, while holding fast amid a week of ugly financial misfortune.
Facebook’s privacy practices and judgement calls have been seriously called into question lately by just about everyone. Although the company has been trying to reassure everyone, with a massive marketing campaign, how it’s changing its ways, it doesn’t seem to really be making any actual useful changes.
But yesterday, its idea of “doing something about it” appears to be shutting down at least one real event page. The reason? You’re not going to believe this; Facebook is claiming that the page was put up by Russian-based conspiracy troll accounts. Yes those accounts; the same ones that influenced the #2016 #Election.
Facebook is making a bad situation worse with its misguided censorship. All we know is that whatever vetting process it’s using is truly flawed. An apology is in order; and the runaway news cycle just keeps repeating the company’s misinformed statements.
Earlier today, Facebook deleted numerous Facebook pages, including one event aimed at promoting a protest against Jason Kessler’s Unite The Right 2, the sequel no one asked for.
The Shut It Down DC Coaliton has been meeting for weeks. We took over the Facebook event created by outside groups, in a desire to keep it accountable to local organizers…We did not promote anyone’s views except our own.
White nationalism and supremacy is not a Russian ploy, it’s a systemic problem. Jason Kessler is not a Russian bot, he’s the foot soldier of the Trump agenda…
Black Lives Matter D.C. and numerous other groups are central to organizing against a real threat to D.C. We do not organize because of a FaceBook account purportedly run by Russia, we do this to make sure our loved ones, communities, and neighborhoods stay safe from fascists in, and out of, uniforms.
We’ve since created a new Facebook event but we know real organizing comes from talking with our neighbors, and that this is a real protest in Washington, D.C. It is not George Soros, it is not Russia, it is just us. Facebook, has left numerous white nationalists pages openly promoting hate up for months at a time, claiming their hands were tied. They regularly suspended Black Lives Matter, Antifascist Groups, and Black Lives Matter member accounts. They have taken down real organizing.
Facebook has taken down 32 fake pages and accounts that it says were involved in coordinated campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram. Though the company has not yet attributed the accounts to any group, it says the campaign does bear some resemblance to the propaganda campaign run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Facebook is now working with law enforcement to determine where the campaign originated.
In the Wired article, it also explains how Facebook felt pressure to “get ahead” of what it thought was a fake event, and in its haste, neglected to thoroughly investigate the matter:
One event, a protest against Unite the Right in Washington called “No Unite the Right 2 – DC,” was scheduled for August 10th. It was cohosted by other, legitimate pages, and more than 3,000 people indicated they were interested in or planned on attending. The desire to get out ahead of this event, Facebook says, hastened its announcement. The company says it disabled the event on Tuesday and alerted the administrators of those pages. It will also notify those users who were interested in attending the event, but a spokesperson told WIRED it’s “premature” to alert all 290,000 people impacted by the campaign.
Shortly after the announcement, other organizers of the protest took to Twitter to object to Facebook’s suspension of the event. “I cannot believe I have to say this: The Unite the Right counter protest is not being organized by Russians,” wrote one user, Dylan Petrohilos. “We have permits in DC, we have numerous local orgs like BLM, Resist This, and Antifascist groups working on this protest. FB deleted the event because 1 page was sketch.” Petrohilos also tweeted that the event was founded by another group, not the Resisters page.
Also in the Wired article, Facebook’s Cheryl Sandberg admits “they don’t know all the facts” yet:
“We’re still in the very early stages of the investigation, and we don’t know all the facts, including who might be behind it,” Facebook’s chief operating officer said on a call with reporters Tuesday.
Chelsea Manning: Me personally, I think that we in technology have a responsibility to make our own decisions in the workplace – wherever that might be. And to communicate with each other, share notes, talk to each other, and really think – take a moment – and think about what you are doing. What are you doing? Are you helping? Are you harming things? Is it worth it? Is this really what you want to be doing? Are deadlines being prioritized over – good results? Should we do something? I certainly made a decision in my own life to do something. It’s going to be different for every person. But you really need to make your own decision as to what to do, and you don’t have to act individually.
Caroline Sinders: Even if you feel like a cog in the machine, as a technologist, you aren’t. There are a lot of people like you trying to protest the systems you’re in. Especially in the past year, we’ve heard rumors of widespread groups and meetings of people inside of Facebook, inside of Google, really talking about the ramifications of the U.S. Presidential election, of questioning, “how did this happen inside these platforms?” – of wanting there even to be accountability inside of their own companies. I think it’s really important for us to think about that for a second. That that’s happening right now. That people are starting to organize. That they are starting to ask questions.
Kristen Lum: There are a lot of models now predicting whether an individual will be re-arrested in the future. Here’s a question: What counts as a “re-arrest?” Say someone fails to appear for court and a bench warrant is issued, and then they are arrested. Should that count? So I don’t see a whole lot of conversation about this data munging.
Read the whole thing here. Watch the whole video here.
Can I get a Hallelujah! :-) Looks like we got through to someone re: bringing back RSS!As we explained back in November:
We now realize that centralized news is “bad” for all sorts of reasons. Many of us have let Google News and Facebook become our primary news filters, which was stupid and naive and lazy of us, but I think I can safely say we are now paying the price.
But what’s done is done. Time to fix it now. Let’s revive RSS and dig up all the old news readers. The news outlets still use it, and they will use it more, if we demand it of them.
The Wired article has pointed out the newest tools (below)! Just like we asked! Thanks to Brian Barrett :-)
From the Wired article:
“There are multiple approaches to connecting to news. Social felt pretty interesting at first, but when you mix social and algorithmic, you can easily get into these noise bubbles, or areas where you don’t necessarily feel 100 percent in control of the algorithm,” says Edwin Khodabakchian, cofounder and CEO of popular RSS reader Feedly. “A tool like Feedly gives you a more transparent and controllable way to connect to the information you need.”…
…Feedly has plenty to offer casual users. It has a clean user interface, and the free version of its service lets you follow 100 sources, categorized into up to three feeds—think News, Sports, Humor, or wherever your interests lie. …Paid accounts—of which Feedly has about 100,000—get you more feeds and integrations, faster updates, and better tools for teams.
For more of a throwback feel, you might try The Old Reader, which strips down the RSS reader experience while still emphasizing a social component…
Power users, meanwhile, might tryInoreader, which offers for free many of the features—unlimited feeds and tags, and some key integrations—Feedly reserves for paid accounts…
(Dave) Winer has re-entered the fray, this week introducing feedbase, a database of feeds that makes it easy to see what others subscribe to, ideally prompting discovery and an even more open approach. “I thought it might be a good time to try to add an important feature to RSS that was always part of the vision, dynamic subscription lists,” Winer says.