Let’s Hear No More About Facebook “Values”

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The New York Times reports that Facebook has developed software that will enable partner Chinese companies to monitor popular stories and topics that Facebook users share across the social network. Facebook’s partner would have power to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds and suppress posts from  in specific geographic areas. The censorship and information-suppressing software  was created to help Facebook get into China, a lucrative market where the social network has been blocked. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is, sources say, full supportive of this effort by Facebook to make the subjugation of Chinese liberty easier.

One of Facebook’s core mission statements is “Make the world more open and connected.” Like so many mission statements, it is public relations deception. If Facebook was devoted to this mission, it would not even consider breaching its intent, letter and spirit by spending time and money to develop censorship software.

Facebook’s real mission is making a fortune by expanding into new markets. Let us not debase the topic of this blog by defaulting to Rationalization # 25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”

Facebook has a choice, the ethical one. That choice is to tell China it has a choice: either accept Facebook without censorship, of do without it. Google and Twitter, neither exactly paragons of virtue, have been blocked there for refusing to yield to the government’s  censorship requirements. Boy, when a company isn’t even as ethical as Twitter..wow.

This is the company we are going to trust to decide what is “real news.”  Ridiculous.

Prominent Democratic Party supporter Zuckerberg, like the party itself, is insufficiently allergic to the methods and objectives of totalitarianism.

14 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Government & Politics, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet

14 responses to “Let’s Hear No More About Facebook “Values”

  1. blzp

    . . . posting this on FB. May be my last.

  2. Al Veerhoff

    Aside from the spinelessness of Facebook’s executive, I see a glimmer of hope. We’all be able to exchange Facebook messages (and pictures) with Chinese friends we could reach only through email. And if Facebook takes off in China, with perhaps billions of messages per day, how does the Chinese hierarchy expect to control it? To be effective, the monitors would have to detect misspelled words (Wa5hl!n9T0n) and circumlocutions (settlement at the confluence of the Potomac and the Anacostia).

  3. Yeah. It’s not hard to put economics aside for principle. Our investment advisor, who already understood our values to a degree, hesitantly mentioned several Chinese investments that were boosting other client’s portfolios by major percentage points. My response was simply that the day China stops relying on the slavery of its own people I may consider investing in their companies. Until then I’m not dirtying my hands.

  4. luckyesteeyoreman

    The more I use Facebook, the clearer seems that medium’s vulnerability to operating like a hive mind (a term, I must admit, I had not paid attention to before reading Zoltar’s comments – thanks Zoltar! [and apologies to everyone, if I am still not yet understanding “hive mind” fully]).

    Well, I probably won’t cease using Facebook, but I’ll probably change how I use it in some way or another, sooner or later…

  5. Frank Stephens

    I just tried to post this article on Facebook — guess what — Facebook censored it and wouldn’t allow me to post a link. Yep, those are some “values” Facebook has. And those “values” don’t include freedom of speech.

  6. Neil Dorr

    Jack,
    So, it’s unethical because it runs contrary to their mission statement? If they advertised themselves as “Facebook: We’re here to earn as many advertising dollars as we can through click-bait” would it then be ethical to assist in Chinese censorship?

    Is it de facto unethical to censor speech? Do those same rules apply to a private company doing so on a private platform?

    -Neil

    • 1. Yes, any organization defying its mission statement lacks integrity, e.g. Unethical.
      2. No, it would still be unethical, but in a different way.
      3. Yes, except for special exceptions (as in wartime or intelligence work, or where duties of confidentiality are in involved.). Censoring speech is a breach of autonomy and individual liberty, and in this coutry, is a breach of core American principles.

  7. Alex

    I had a chqnce to work for FB not too long ago but endwd up turning it down for a competing offer almost six figures lower. While the blatant political censorship was not the tipping point, it was one of the major considerations. Today I’m much happier than I would have been there.

  8. Amusing bit from the Gormogons about what Facebook has taught them about this election…

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