Facebook and National Censorship
SAN FRANCISCO – September 21, 2018
A special "War Room" will start work in Facebook headquarters on Monday.
The main task for 20 of its resident employees — plus about 300 employees of Facebook on the outside, and another 20,000 people around the world — will be "the fight against disinformation and fake news, as well as the removal of fake accounts that may try to influence voters before the elections in the U.S., Brazil and other countries."
What's interesting here:
Facebook is a U.S. corporation but it intends to act as if it possesses the ultimate truth, not only for U.S. voters within the country, but for those on the other side of the equator and in "other countries".
But this doesn’t mean the Zuckerberg network won’t ask countries for their criteria of censorship. In Pakistan, for example, it has already helped "fight lies" in the summer elections, working closely with the State Election Commission and blocking any content at the request of the government. There is reason to believe other governments will be able to "tame" Facebook via threats of blocking Facebook.
Notably, the European Union is already pressing Facebook. European Commissioner for justice Vera Yurova yesterday explained that Facebook must stop collecting and using information about users which go contrary to the requirements of European legislation till the end of this year. "We've been working on this for more than two years and I'm starting to lose patience. We want to see the result. If we do not see it, there will be sanctions," the Commissioner said. Ten years ago it was unimaginable to hear such a harsh statement from a Czech European official.
In general, it looks like the future of global social networks are in a nervous state.
First, they will either have to comply with the national laws of all countries, or otherwise they will have to forget their hope of imposing a single standard (their own) on the world. Accordingly, they will have to offer different user agreements to citizens of different states. For example, for some Ukrainians and in some Baltic states, Facebook can even see what’s on users’ monitors, but any data on the Germans or English version sites will have to be removed.
Secondly, it is very likely that social networks will be forced to "protect" different countries from each other's interference. For example, let’s say in one Facebook unit will regularly protect Saudis from Zionist propaganda, and in another they shield Israelis from Islamist propaganda. It is not unlikely if, one day, the Chinese division of Facebook (a U.S. company) begins to fight against interference coming from the Chinese policy of the U.S. divisions. Today it sounds strange. Tomorrow? Who knows.
The thing is, global social networks, as we know them, were created for the "unipolar" century and the unipolar world: LinkedIn (2002), Facebook (2004), Twitter (2006), Instagram (2010).
It was a time before states had time to impose laws on the internet. At the same moment, it was a time when the future of the planet was largely accepted as axiomatic: the global domination of One, the main Western country, for decades ahead. This dominance was and is comprehensive: her Hollywood movies, her Los Angeles and New York music labels, and her Silicon Valley and its social networks. The world has only one choice: submit to the imposed rules now or later.
However, life has made adjustments. Now the format of social networks, as originally conceived, are clearly not in line with the real demands of real (not dissolved into global liberal democracy, as once expected) states, which are eager for sovereignty over its information space. States have realized that views, likes and reposts are the capital on which people are acquired. And States are quickly building an internet with borders, pressuring the web of anarchy inside their countries at the same time. Finally, since it is impossible to be blunt that freedom is over, the states instead say that it is time to protect their information freedom. From whom? It’s not important, from the Russians or Chinese or whomever. Thusly, the supervisory policing network has been introduced.