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Facebook Social Networks Politics

Facebook Quietly Hid Webpages Bragging of Ability to Influence Elections (theintercept.com) 83

Sam Biddle, reporting for The Intercept: When Mark Zuckerberg was asked if Facebook had influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the founder and CEO dismissed the notion that the site even had such power as "crazy." It was a disingenuous remark. Facebook's website had an entire section devoted to touting the "success stories" of political campaigns that used the social network to influence electoral outcomes. That page, however, is now gone, even as the 2018 congressional primaries get underway.

In the wake of a public reckoning with Facebook's unparalleled ability to distribute information and global anxiety over election meddling, bragging about the company's ability to run highly effective influence campaigns probably doesn't look so great. Facebook's "success stories" page is a monument to the company's dominance of online advertising, providing examples from almost every imaginable industry of how use of the social network gave certain players an advantage. "Case studies like these inspire and motivate us," the page crows.

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Facebook Quietly Hid Webpages Bragging of Ability to Influence Elections

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  • Duh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Of course they are falling-over-themselves power hungry. They're just still fuming sour grapes because that guy won and their gal lost. If the outcome was different the response would be quite the opposite. They are hypocrites, really.

  • by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2018 @03:27PM (#56261053)

    The bigger they get, the less they get to hide behind that "hey it's our platform, don't like our bias? Build your own" bullshit. At some point people who care about election integrity and things like that are going to wake up to the fact that allowing a seriously biased company like Facebook to play power broker in one moment and go John Galt on the other is just straight up poisonous for our society.

    At some point, their "standards" are going to have to start resembling that of common carriers and the "mistakes" where somethings like a total annihilation of conservative content (with no comparable loss elsewhere) will have to be treated as an obviously intentional propaganda act.

    • Just curious, who do you think was unbiased in their reporting of the last few election cycles?

      Off the top of my head, I can't think of anyone other than myself (and I was only unbiased because I disliked everyone pretty much equally (of the candidates I was allowed to vote for)).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sinij ( 911942 )
        There is a world of difference between "Dem candidate is a shithead" and pizzagate.
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There is a world of difference between "Dem candidate is a shithead" and pizzagate.

          I saw a helluva lot more "Trump is a RAAAACIS Nazi!" on Facebook and Twitter than I saw of the "Dem candidate is a shithead" ilk.

          • People of Twitter or Facebook should not say Trump is a Racist Nazi. They should say EITHER racist OR say nazi. But not both. It's redundant.
          • Do you understand how Facebook works? It shows you whatever it is that you will react to in a way that benefits Facebook. Check my Uncles facebook feed and its full of stories (still to this day) about Obama and Clinton being evil and Trump saving the world. Check my aunts and you will see that Trump is going to be impeached at any moment. Check mine and you will see a mix.
        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          I thought is was this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] that did a lot of damage and nothing but the words out of her own mouth and her own behaviour, this produced after calling a large number of voters deplorables.

      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        ...I disliked everyone pretty much equally (of the candidates I was allowed to vote for)

        Who did you support that you weren't allowed to vote for? Foreigner? Criminal? Too young? The candidate I voted for didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning, but I was allowed to cast my vote for him.

    • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2018 @03:47PM (#56261159) Homepage Journal

      Single Sign-on

      Facebook is the only way to log into some applications and mobile apps, Spotify was that way for months, they removed your login and you had to use your facebook.

      Seeing google SSO pop up, but facebook seems to be the king of SSO.

      • It's funny to see Spotify mentioned. Last week I looked at my bank balance, and found out someone charged a Spotify subscription to my debit card. Must be for a year because it was $119 and change. Went right to my bank and reported it. Thankfully I don't subscribe to any of those services, so could state clearly it wasn't maybe some old auto-renew I had forgotten about. The bank just finished removing the charge from my account today.

      • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2018 @04:14PM (#56261307)
        I refuse to use any service that requires login to Facebook. This also includes Facebook. I'm willing to bet the world would be a better place if more people felt this way.
    • I'm guessing you are a resident of the USA.

      You do realise that on most of the planet your Democratic Party is considered a party of the right?

      From the extreme end of the right, looking along the spectrum, I'm sure it looks to you like them Dems, social democrats, Christian Democrats, Labour and darn commies are all in a bunch together. If you think that, it means you are way too far to the right that your world view is corrupted.

      Meantime, from somewhere near the middle of the spectrum, a viewer looking in y

    • The bigger they get, the less they get to hide behind that "hey it's our platform, don't like our bias? Build your own" bullshit.

      Gotta call bullshit where I see it. Websites are private, except government/state run sites. You are a guest on someone else's infrastructure, if you don't like how they do things, go somewhere else. Period. The moment any fuck like this poster suggests regulating and telling websites how to operate can walk in front of the nearest speeding bus.

      I don't like Facebook or Twitter. My choice: I don't use those sites. Period. If you don't like them, then fucking stop using them. Not difficult.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I personally don't like either site and don't use them.
        But it is perfectly right to call out companies on their two-faced bullshit. The conversation can be more nuanced than "regulate them" or "just don't use them :^)"

        • I personally don't like either site and don't use them.
          But it is perfectly right to call out companies on their two-faced bullshit. The conversation can be more nuanced than "regulate them" or "just don't use them :^)"

          You're joking right? There is no conversation. These two sites, Twitter and Facebook have done more damage to civil behavior than any other singular entity in modern history. They are blights, plagues, and probably evil. They do nothing good. They sell advertisements, and their only goal is get your EYEBALLS on their ads. They don't give a flying fuck about anything else. Raising hell and making mountains out of mole hills? Right on, as long as it gets more eyeballs looking at our ads.

          If these were

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The more terms like neutral public forum are used to censor people.
      The more an internal brand policy is used to support one side of US politics.
      The more users encounter a brand policy of reduced visibility.
      The more content will be supported by really great brands that understand freedom of speech and freedom after speech.
    • by nasch ( 598556 )

      At some point, their "standards" are going to have to start resembling that of common carriers and the "mistakes" where somethings like a total annihilation of conservative content (with no comparable loss elsewhere) will have to be treated as an obviously intentional propaganda act.

      If you're proposing banning propaganda, I think you're going to find some first amendment issues with that plan.

  • Of course Facebook is going to have pages touting how successful messaging is on Facebook.

    Why should you believe them, any more than you believe using Axe Body Spray is going to land you dates with hot models?

    In reality, how many times has Facebook, or anything you saw on Facebook, changed YOUR mind? It's a place where people do not go to change minds, theirs or anyone else's.

    • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2018 @03:50PM (#56261173)

      In reality, how many times has Facebook, or anything you saw on Facebook, changed YOUR mind? It's a place where people do not go to change minds, theirs or anyone else's.

      The key issue is radicalization. You might have started thinking that democrats are well-meaning but ultimately untrustworthy to govern people. Then you joined a Facebook group that keeps you busy with all kinds of alternative facts and you end up believing in Pizzagate, Agenda 21, and other out-there stuff.

      Sure, you still have not changed how you voted. However, your GOP candidate now is full Trumpster and you are willing to overlook recent white robes and a mistress, because other side in your mind is the devil. A decade ago it was small government fiscal conservative family values you voted for, now you RINO such guys.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just for grins, I signed up to a lot of right-wing pages and groups because I wanted to screenshot and make fun. People mentioning Pizzagate, Agenda 21, NWO are laughed at, or are warned off as potential trolls, so they don't make others look bad. Hell, they even dropped Snopes on people who decided to post brain dead stuff.

        Of course, there are the obviously insane groups, but in general, they did a lot to police themselves and get rid of the trolls in their midst. Mainly because if they step out of line

        • People mentioning Pizzagate, Agenda 21, NWO are laughed at, or are warned off as potential trolls, so they don't make others look bad.

          The degree to which this lunacy rubs off on other people is proportional to how close their positions are to those listed above.

          What I'm hearing you say: Gotta flush some batshit 11s, so that we don't look bad as batshit 10s.

          The whole reason that pizzagate became a cross-spectrum meme is because it's a handy batshit 11, where the pizzagate meme-dropper doesn't need to know a

      • The key issue is radicalization. You might have started thinking that democrats are well-meaning but ultimately untrustworthy to govern people. ... and then you kept on believing that, only a little moreso... it's not changing what they think. I don't even think it's radicalizing people especially much, because at least on Facebook you see other opinions to some degree whereas if you were off Facebook, you would just read websites that reenforced your opinion otherwise. As people age, a form of radicali

      • by syril ( 4954359 )
        How can you not believe in pizzagate? Can't see how it's that outlandish, pizzagate is: the strange code The Big Guys were using in the leaked Podesta emails. Most everything else attributed to the pizzagate theory is crazy speculation and not even really related.

        It could be code for anything, drugs, male or female prostitutes, child prostitutes maybe, or perhaps there is no code and Obama really did spend $60k on a hotdog party. ;)
        • by syril ( 4954359 )
          uhhh.... ./ wasn't posting my comment so i retried and did it from memory.... heh..... uhh... ignore this. :)
      • by syril ( 4954359 )
        Don't get the hate for pizzagate, what's so outlandish about it? Pizzagate is: the strange code The Big Guys were using in the leaked podesta emails. Everything else attributed to it (the comet ping-pong stuff) is crazy speculation and most of it isn't even related, wouldn't be surprised if it was purposeful to push attention away from the emails.

        Anyway, it could be anything, drugs, male or female prostitutes, child prostitutes maybe, or perhaps Obama really did spend $60k on a hotdog party for his frien
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's a good thing they're going to use Snopes and co to vet the news and tell us which people are wrong. How dare anyone un-American talk about an American election on a site like Facebook! I'm sure that many people, like that Saudi prince who owns Twitter is aghast that Russians might have spread lies on their services and they'll be sure to work with the Democrats to ensure that such people can't speak out again. We really need to ensure that America only gets its news from Trusted sources and censor a

    • Of course Facebook is going to have pages touting how successful messaging is on Facebook. Why should you believe them,

      Interesting, I just got through the part of "What Happened" where Hil was praising O for his use of social media.

      In reality, how many times has Facebook, or anything you saw on Facebook, changed YOUR mind?

      Social media is not for changing minds. It is for motivating those who already believe what you say into action. People who agree with you but don't care enough to vote will "change their minds" about the latter.

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2018 @03:38PM (#56261097)
    You mean like the British data mining and analytics firm that has messed in dozens of American elections, including the trump campaign [ca-political.com] and brags a near 100% win rate? Or the American media giving trump 6 billion dollars of free air time to boost ratings, more money than all other candidates combined? I'm confused if we are supposed to bomb the British or the MSM. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest the playing field would be vastly improved by removing all large donor and any corporate donor money. If Bernie can raise half a billion dollars in small donations then anyone who is fit to run can too.
    • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2018 @03:41PM (#56261113)
      It was a quarter billion sorry I posted before checking.
    • by umghhh ( 965931 )
      You can include this little company that helped Marcon be elected.
    • "American media giving trump 6 billion dollars of free air time" hissing and spitting on him the whole time. Even Fox News, for those who think it supported Trump.

      • I wasn't saying it helped or hurt trump, but that much air time free (not given to anyone else) certainly "meddled" with the election. If I were to guess it helped him because the more exposure by MSM, good or bad, helps quite a bit. Specifically with trump, and his claims of rocking the deep state and swamp draining, all that "fake news" probably just made people considering supporting him all the more determined to vote for him.
      • I just noticed your tag line. If you haven't please check out this clip with Dr Jill Stein [youtube.com], it truly is my favorite clip of her in the last 6 months. It is appalling the levels MSNBC will go to to smear candidates outside of mainstream, and her comments are the reason I bring up the 6 billion. Having to fact check the interviewer, expose the McCarthyism, and murder her own interviewer with words are what is wrong with corporate bought MSM.
  • It's a leap to say that the comment was "disingenuous". Facebook is a large company, with departments handling different things, some of which would be outside of Zuckerberg's knowledge. What he said at one moment can be in conflict with what his company does without it being a lie. Not defending him or FB. I just wish people would write things more fairly.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    One of the interesting (but not unprecedented!!) things about this story, is that most of us are pointing our fingers at Facebook and/or the people who bought the ads, rather than pointing at the voters who decide who to vote for based on random ads, even though everyone knows that ads can say whatever, and don't necessarily tell you anything true or useful. Yet your biggest civic contribution, you throw it away on whatever an ad told you to do.

    But like I said, it's precedented. Many of us are also not con

  • Those "success" stories mean they were able to influence elections where Democrats were elected. They don't considers Trump's election a "success".

  • You'd have to be under the age of three to not understand that Facebook is an ADVERTISING platform.

    Literally the entire media world runs on advertising. Shoot, if you have cable TV or go to the movies these days, you will not only have to sit through advertisements, you'll have the pleasure of PAYING while you do so.

    So how could this possibly be wrong for Facebook when it is acceptable for every other media company? It's a free country, no one forces you to look at their service. If you don't like it, don't

  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2018 @05:34PM (#56261715)
    Of course they do! They constantly "play down/block" a lot of conservative posts, stories etc, but, PROMOTE liberal causes & stories. http://dailycaller.com/2016/05... [dailycaller.com] https://gizmodo.com/former-fac... [gizmodo.com] http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/0... [cnn.com] https://www.npr.org/sections/t... [npr.org]
    • Nobody is without biases. The way that this is handled within reputable organizations is via controls that attempt to limit the influence of bias. For example, big-name newspapers like the NYT and the Wall Street Journal employ armies of fact checkers. So sure the reporting still ends up biased (often by omitting important things) but doesn't become Pinnochio news. That's not idea but it may be the best we can due. Scientific studies are double-blind and peer reviewed. That has it's flaws as well but a
  • no shit they had adverts touting their effectiveness. Now, I'm the libbiest lib who ever libed. I waited 3 hours in line to vote for Bernie in my primary in a Red f'n state. But after this [cnn.com] I'm starting to wonder if maybe Trump winning was, while legitimately awful, still better than Hilary. I mean, at least I might get a Democratic House & 2 years of grid lock. And these days that seems like all I can hope for.

    I'll still be voting for Bernie in my primary in 2 years.

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