Facebook and the Rise of Anti-Social Media

Photo by paz.ca | CC BY 2.0

It was a bit over four years ago that journalist Glenn Greenwald reported that British ‘intelligence,’ GCHQ, had developed a program to spread politically targeted disinformation over the internet. The revelation came from a presentation made to the ‘Five Eyes alliance,’ which includes the NSA and was released by Edward Snowden. In the context of Federal and commercialdata collection, revelations that Facebook data was used for ‘private’ political purposes is both more and less than meets the eye.

As was widely reportedwith less manufactured outrage at the time, the Obama administration used Facebook data in Mr. Obama’s 2012 presidential bid in approximately the same manner that Cambridge Analytica is now accused of doing. Thanks to Edward Snowden, it has been known since 2013 that the NSA was using Facebook datafor political purposes. And prior still, in 2011 the CIA reportedthat it was ‘using’ social media, some of which it had funded, toward its own ends.

There is good reason for political pushback here. A wide variety of corporate and state actors have instantiated the internet into the fabric contemporary economic and political life. With a history of bad faith and bad acts, the fantasy that the CIA, NSA and FBI serve national interests begs the question of whose nation? Past targets including the Black Panther Party, Occupy Wall Street and antiwar protestors were as (more) capable of defining American interests as…

Read more