Facebook: An investigation released on Monday (12) by the British newspaper The Guardian exposed the lenient way in which Facebook has led the dissemination of false campaigns by governments and politicians around the world. Using a loophole purposely ignored by the social network, politicians feign popular support and create spurious campaigns against their opponents.
Working with the company’s internal documentation, and based on the testimony of a former Facebook data scientist, Sophie Zhang, the journal shows how Mark Zuckerberg’s team selectively monitors this sensitive activity: speed when it comes to practices in countries such as the USA, South Korea and Taiwan, and “turning a blind eye” on poorer people like Afghanistan, Iraq and all of Latin America.
Zhang told the journal that the dissimilar treatment is based only on a possible impact on public relations with rich countries. When reporting this discrepancy to her superiors, she was fired for “poor performance”.
How do politicians use this Facebook loophole?
While working on Facebook’s integrity team to identify false activities, Zhang realized that several governments around the world were using the pages to appear more popular and criticize their political opponents. Although individuals can have only one account, anyone can create multiple pages to serve different purposes.
Instead of using the pages for businesses of companies, charities, NGOs and others, unscrupulous politicians change the registered names to look like individual accounts, in what Zhang described as “blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our large-scale platform to deceive your own citizens “.
After denouncing real cases of manipulation, such as the re-election of the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and campaigns carried out by the authoritarian president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, Zhang received an incentive dismissal package of US $ 64 thousand (R $ 360 thousand) for “Move on”, but she turned down the proposal and ended up getting fired.