There was major “news” yesterday morning, resulting from a new report by The New York Times alleging that fake accounts linked to “Russian actors” paid to promote $100,000 worth of content through Facebook‘s advertising venues. According to the official story, “Providing new evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on hot-button issues purchased by a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin.” Adding that the ads largely centered around “divisive social issues such as race, gay rights, gun control and immigration” and ran between a time period of “June 2015 and May 2017.”
However, while this is being passed off as “breaking news” today, it is hardly new evidence and these sorts of allegations have already been widely documented. Late in 2016 The Washington Post released a long list of news websites and publishers that allegedly published Russian propaganda ahead of the Presidential election and dating as far back as November of 2016, both Google and Facebook have begun working to halt the ad revenue of “fake news outlets” operating on their services.
TROJAN HORSE: Google Declares War On Alternative Media: Plans to Punish “False News” By Halting Ad Revenue https://t.co/9d1pw8MVP1
— Crazy Truth (@gb_ball) November 18, 2016
Let's disagree and debate based on information, not lies and propaganda. Thankful for everyone who fights fake news. https://t.co/ylRUBlRa6r
— Monika Bauerlein (@MonikaBauerlein) November 24, 2016
However, considering that Facebook has long since admitted to accepting money to advertise, promote and sponsor fake news headlines in the past, you have to ask yourself what the purpose of The New York Times report today really was? It does not provide any new information to the discussion and they story-line they are pushing is already more then ten months old at this point. Well, unfortunately, as I hope I have just demonstrated, The New York Times report today is not breaking news at all, it is simply another pathetic attempt to keep “Russian hacking” in the popular headlines for politically motivated partisan reasons.
With that out of the way, I want to talk about something that I do not see anyone else talking about, which is whom is actually more to blame for this whole fiasco in the first place. Reading the report from the Times today I find something incredibly curious, in that everyone almost exclusively blames ‘those evil Russians‘ for trying to interfere in the election. But where is the blame and outrage towards Facebook I wonder?
I mean think about it, whom is more to blame for fake news becoming so popular and widespread in the first place? Is it the Russians for creating the material or Facebook for accepting money to knowingly spread that same material to millions of people? Personally, I happen to think that Facebook is almost entirely to blame for this issue and I simply do not understand the New York Times or anyone else for that matter, for giving Facebook a complete pass on this.
For example, today’s report points out the fact that Facebook accepted $100,000 from Russian Intelligence to pay to promote fake news and propaganda postings through their advertising services. Forget for a moment whom made the postings or where they came from, if Facebook never accepted the money and used their network to spread the material, no one would have been able to see or read any of these stories to begin with. It wasn’t the Russian’s whom made these stories popular or viral, it was Facebook advertising and it was not the Russian’s whom directly profited from these stories, Facebook did.
The fact of the matter is that good ole fashion American corporate greed and Facebook‘s desire to make as much money as possible allowed the Russians to succeed and exploit the system. If Facebook was a little more responsible, was less money hungry and had any sort of social standards at the time, the Russians would not have been able to get their material seen by millions of people. Quite frankly, it is both ignorant and annoying to keep seeing so many people solely blaming the Russians for this whole incident. Instead, it is time to start holding Facebook directly accountable for their own actions, perhaps by fining them and making them pay back some of the profits they accumulated from advertising so many fake news headlines in the past.
Lastly, I would like to point out that you can go ahead and blame Russia for spreading political propaganda in the United States all you want, but it does not take away from the fact that the American people choose to buy and consume all this material in the first place. Even if it is true that Russia disseminated political propaganda to undermine the US election in favor of Donald Trump, Russia did not sell anything the American viewing public did not want to buy themselves. In this way American society hacked itself and all of this hoopla surrounding Russia is just that – hoopla.