Tuesday, 21 June 2016

FACEBOOK - A Monster in the Making!

The following is the unedited version of an exposé currently featured in the 24th revised edition of Malleus Maleficus'  [title withheld]. If you wish to report slander or inaccuracies, please email MalleusMaleficus@aol.com  To make a formal complaint under IPSO rules please contact IPSO directly at ipso.co.uk .  
             This is the supreme example of total worship.  I had a vision of MZ being welcomed by a kneeling Eloi, along with the slogan “Bestower of Eternal Grace” appearing on Facebook’s currency and places like The Great Seal of the United States.
What Zuckerberg has not made plain is the range of coercive methods sanctioned by the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” – as the Constitution of the Dominion of Facebook is technically titled. Indeed,   he’s managed to convince the world it is still in charge of its own destiny while virtually being the master of it. Mark Zuckerberg's 5,800 word global manifesto of February 16, 2017 bluntly made the point in case anyone missed it.  “Can you rule out a future constitutional claim to political sovereignty if users vote for  independence in a referendum for Facebook as a Virtual State?” I ask, before expressing my 'enormous admiration' for his achievement and wanting to know if he could see himself run in the next US presidential election. It was then that I caught sight of the real Mark Zuckerberg: “I can,” he said, and burst out laughing, “do anything I goddamn  like!” Which is when I made up my mind that in that split second, cackling like Amazon’s Alexa, I learnt more about him than some 3bn Facebook members have since February 2004. Indeed,  what I saw before me was nothing but a human high-frequency algorithmic generator looking for hidden correlations that could be turned into profit - and you could do worse than choose the US presidential election of Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Failing that, I was perfectly conscious of the fact that this person programmed other persons, and that what they determined would be presented back to you and I in structures of  ever-increasing algorithmic complexity. And, as the host of user-generated content,  there are
numerous ways to utilize such control. Indeed, it is a striking demonstration of how they tend to focus their attention on whatever seems to matter, that between them, Facebook and Google have already taken out huge segments of the newspaper industry. As indeed, the most tangible evidence of the Orwellian threat from the subtler means of algorithmic seduction, is how Cambridge Analytica’s algorithms turned ‘likes’ into a political tool.  For nothing better illustrates the public’s unrelenting fondness for algorithmic titillation then the rapid growth of the social media over the last 10 years  – even though I find them nauseating.
            Ideological states are virtual and cannot join the UN. But if Facebook were a nation, no one would be permitted to ignore it. It would  be the second largest in the world by population, bigger than the British Empire which united in its heyday  well over a quarter of the world’s people. Some
500m Hindus, Muslims and Christians, in fact, whose many conflicting cultures would hardly have been blessed with one basic article of political faith, nor with an equally pervasive preoccupation with the compulsive ideals that rule the behaviour of Facebook fans.   In welding dozens of disparate cultures into something like an Empire,  Mark Zuckerberg  has contrived to give us the ultimate absurdity, an entire planet held to ransom by one of its virtual states. Not the faceless corporate success of McDonald’s or Starbucks, but an extraordinarily invasive psychohistorical phenomenon.
            The terminology exemplifies the power of the myth. If ever you figured you were the target of a massive scam, here was its instigator rubbing your nose in it. For “You” - on terms unknown to all but a few insiders - “will grant him a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” Or
as Dominic Lawson reminded us: “The biggest lie of the internet age is: ‘I have read and understood all the terms and conditions’.”[1]  
            The agenda is chilling. One can never escape a rabbit warren of cookies, hyperlinks and endless data that make up the agreement between the parties. Our movements are tracked and our private thoughts logged. Fed into a single database, a kind of global main-frame that gathers and sifts ‘payload data’ on millions of potential mutants, the campaign can target its sales pitch. Nor is it hard to understand why the motivational ploys and public relation devices, when applied in a certain magical mixture, should infuse a context with both, high morale and a high profile.  As the veteran media mule Andrew Sullivan once put it: “Obama’s crack squad of Silicon Valley aces has shown us the electoral future… They would combine real-time information from the census, Facebook, past campaigns, marketing and consumer research, internet profiles and social media patterns to create the most accurate profile of a voting population in human history… At no moment were they in the dark…They analysed interactions on Facebook to see which individuals were “influential” and… used all the data [they] could find on potential voters, including their viewing habits and consumer preferences…”
            That is what is known to polygraphers as a clinically significant disclosure (CSD). They did not spread ‘free’ opinion - they generated it. Worse, they tracked, cracked, stalked, and spent days, if
not weeks, observing individuals remotely. A faceless, clandestine conspiracy hidden behind layers of encryption and online anonymity. And here it is revealed in all its odious glory.[2] 
          As I wrote in The New York Times, such wiretapped data had actually been used in an investigation of Trump's advisors, indicating that the President-elect and his team were monitored, at the very least, if only as part of 'legally collected' information - and valuable enough to be worth collecting. Indeed, I can only speculate about what may have contributed to Zuckerberg's political affiliation, but in America, about two thirds of adults are on Facebook. Nearly half – 45%- get their news from it [3]. For evidence, look no further than the notorious case of  Cambridge Analytica targeting voters in the US presidential election while illegally harvesting more than 50m Facebook profiles. Nor does Facebook sell news to users. It sells users to advertisers. And with more than 2 billion monthly active members, controlled by an algorithmic technocracy that often bypasses an existing legal framework, the issue of 'fake news' and 'filtering of trends' is bound to be of major concern.  Having sat down with Zuckerberg, I realized I was exposed to the machinations of an enormous con: “There is a huge need and opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to help transform society for the future.” A need he is always happy to exploit, making it sound like internet equity and talking about “the community”, the thousand million anonymous Elois who edit and update  the ever expanding Empire, as if they too played their part in the noble ideal of making the world's people 'more open and connected'. If truth be told, I felt almost indebted toward this master manipulator, being  overwhelmed by the grace of it all. A  heart-throb to many, an inspiration to more and  about to pull off the most coveted coup in corporate history - Facebook was a monster in the making !

[1] “And, incidentally,  we’d like you to sign an NDA [non-disclosure agreement] before we shoot you in the back!” 
[2] The Sunday Times 25.11.12; News Review: Hire this dude and win
[3] Dark clouds gather over home of Facebook. Niall Ferguson. The Sunday Times 01.10.2017


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