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How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation

Tuesday, November 23, 2021 (15:00)

I read How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation, which explains how the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar (at least 10,000 deaths and 700,000 displacements) was fuelled by fake news and how Facebook was involved: “In 2015, six of the 10 websites in Myanmar getting the most engagement on Facebook were from legitimate media (…). A year later, Facebook (…) offered global access to Instant Articles, a program publishers could use to monetize their content. One year after that rollout, legitimate publishers accounted for only two of the top 10 publishers on Facebook in Myanmar. By 2018, they accounted for zero. All the engagement had instead gone to fake news and clickbait websites. (…) The low-grade content overwhelmed other information sources. It was during this rapid degradation of Myanmar’s digital environment that a militant group of Rohingya –a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority– attacked and killed a dozen members of the security forces, in August of 2017. (…)” It also says that “Facebook and Google are paying millions of ad dollars to bankroll clickbait actors, fuelling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.”

I must say that I don’t fully understand the mechanics of these clickbait farms. Maybe this is just another conspiracy theory. As usual, we have only our faith to guide us.

My naive –or inspired– reaction: Facebook and Google would not do such things if their ultimate goal was to serve humanity. Unfortunately their ultimate goal is to serve their owners, by generating profit. Wikimedia Foundation would never do such things because they are a foundation. Foundations have no motivation to collect more money than they need for functioning.

So in theory we just need to say Limited Liability – Limited Profit and the issue would be fixed. What’s wrong with the idea I describe in Limited Liability – Limited Profit? Why don’t we start doing it?

Yes, I know that reality is more complex than theory, but why don’t we repent in theory, at political level, i.e. decide that we change our direction and want to start moving towards a new horizon?