In his article “Platforms Must Pay for Their Role in the Insurrection,” [Wired 7 Jan 2021] Roger McNamee has asserted that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media services intentionally promote incendiary content. He states, “the algorithmic amplification of extreme content is a business choice made in pursuit of profit.” Content that incites people will be more likely to attract more users, more frequently, who spend more time on the platforms, increasing advertising revenue.
Last week Twitter announced that they suspended 70,000 accounts for spreading rumors and inciting violence. These were known bots and people with multiple accounts promoting misinformation and violence.
How long had the those 70,000 accounts been active? They obviously weren’t all created last week. Presumably they were permitted to violate Twitter terms for months or years. Why did Twitter allow them to exist? Good question.
I’ve personally reported Facebook accounts that are obviously fake, and on many (but not all) occasions Facebook did nothing. Perhaps it depends on who is responding to the complaint. Yet, the numerous times those fake accounts stayed active leads me to believe that Facebook is intentionally allowing these accounts to exist, to stimulate activity.
Something I notice, but don’t report are the many bots and fake accounts that “like” my pages. I just don’t have time to follow-up on these. I have Facebook pages, specifically local to my city, that have not been advertised or promoted, but have gained hundreds of followers from around the world. I check the accounts and they don’t seem legitimate. It would not be difficult to setup automated systems to detect and remove these fake accounts, but Facebook chooses to do nothing.
When a person gets a notification about people liking their pages, or asking for a friend request, it’s a way of being prodded to login and check Facebook. Once logged in, people get sucked in and stay for an extended period of time. This produces advertising revenue.
Roger McNamee asserts that Facebook has done their usual psychological profiling of people, and targeted those likely to be malleable and sucked into extremist groups where they are subsequently radicalized such as cults, militias, and conspiracy theory groups.
You can read his article on Wired (here) and watch the full interview below.
About the Video
Amanpour and Company, 13 Jan 2021. Early Facebook Investor: Social Media “Companies Have Blood on Their Hands” – YouTube has become the latest social media platform to suspend President Trump’s account, saying one of his videos incited violence. The move comes after similar action was taken by Facebook, Twitter, and other tech giants. What responsibility does Silicon Valley bear for last week’s Capitol Hill riot? Roger McNamee was an early investor in Facebook and an adviser to Mark Zuckerberg and now has written a damning article for Wired: “Platforms Must Pay for Their Role in the Insurrection.” Originally aired on January 13, 2021.