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Facebook, neo-Nazis and the end of meaning, update 2,848

Posted by on June 27, 2020 at 3:30 PM

Remember that Air Force sergeant who, just a few weeks ago, murdered federal and local law enforcement officers as part of the right-wing "boogaloo" movement to do violence, blame it on protesters and start a race war? Pretty big news, you'd think, but guess what, that operation was coordinated on and all made possible by Facebook.


First, if you haven't subscribed and sent a few bucks to Judd Legum's online newsletter Popular Information (the immediately relevant stories from which are here and here), please do. Second, if you want to know why your good Christian aunt has gone full-on fascist and your "conservative" buds keep regurgitating made-up bullshit about Soros and antifa commies as a reason they're ready to do massacres for Trump - Facebook has very much been responsible, and it's kind of incumbent upon us to do everything possible, here or without, to encourage and fan the ongoing exodus of advertisers from this website, which Legum has been heroically encouraging and tracking.


Notwithstanding the myriad instances of the company working hand-in-glove with shadowy "clients" whose express intent is destroying and subverting democratic institutions and civil society, Zuckerberg's thralldom to his board member Peter Thiel - a man on the public record as suggesting democracy is outdated mob rule - has directly resulted in the company abrogating all responsibilities for policing content, no matter how vile, perfidious, wrong and calculated to do malice it might be. Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Thiel et al. have committed to making Facebook a cipher entity, a morally blank space where everything goes, no matter if the dumb stovepiped horseshit gets people sick or shot.


This, to remind, has nothing to do with "free speech." To restate this for the billionth time, the First Amendment, in spite of what your dipshit friends who have never read it say, has nothing to do with what a private media company allows or disallows on its platform. One might even argue that, ethically, effecting the "community" Facebook insists is its purpose would be made easier by an absence of provable lies and war-mongering assholes spreading long-beshitted "race science" or QAnon twattery.


It's like if you hung out for years at the local bar and then some weird shit started happening. Klan members started showing up at the bar and insisted on proselytizing the customers at random, and you looked at the bartender and asked "Why is this fucking Nazi in this bar and talking to me?" and the bartender said "Freedom of Speech, whadayagonna do?" And then the Klansmen began posting flyers in the windows, advertising rallies and standard aggrieved-wypipo slogans like "Diversity=White Genocide," and then they start having meetings at the back booth to plot cross-burnings and murders, so you complain to the bar owner and the owner says, "Everybody is welcome in this bar and all opinions are equally valid."


This is the stance Facebook has struck, even when ANY bartender or bar owner worth their fucking oxygen would tell you, "Yeah, I would absolutely tell Klansmen to get the fuck out of my bar, bounce their white ass if they didn't, and make it clear they were banned." Bars can ban anyone they want based on shitty antisocial behavior. I've personally witnessed this happen several times. And it has ABSOLUTE FUCKALL to do with the First Amendment.


Companies like Patagonia, North Face and REI were the first to say to Zuckerberg, "Yeah, given the responsibility of your vast communications platform, you should be AT LEAST as ethically sound as a decent bartender," and yanked their advertising. Unilever, Coke, Verizon and 120-some other companies have since followed suit and, to be clear, not a lot of these are particularly "liberal" companies - or even GOOD companies; the bigger the company chances are the more morally bankrupt it is - this is just media buyers and their bosses basically being shamed into taking the bare-minimum steps to be less garbage in an epoch absolutely characterized by rampant garbage behavior.


Keep shaming. Facebook is going to quibble and hem and haw and offer half-measures and quarter-measures and dissembling PR handouts that sound like they "get it," but they fucking don't. Scandal after scandal, Nazi client after herrenvolk "patriot" group, they've shown they will persistently, consistently, relentlessly suspend all basic metrics of morality and human decency to insist they can remain neutral on a moving train (even, to remind, as they canoodle with actual fascists). They can't, because it's impossible. Shut down your account for a few days and type a few words in the "why you're leaving" field - because they abide Nazis, hatespeech and easily-debunked lies and enable hategroups to coordinate violence - and we'll all be here when you get back. But even more effectively, if you have ANY influence on advertisers in any way, let them know. Tweet at their quirky/funny twitter accounts that they suck specifically for advertising on Facebook, send letters to their consumer feedback sites, give them hilariously bad Yelp reviews, whatever. If you have a favorite brand and they advertise on Facebook, let them know you are a LOYAL customer and you simply expect better of them.


An awakening is happening, one that can genuinely correct the awful shit that got us to this absolute nadir of the country's existence. This is one small way to participate in it.