From Facebook to Policebook
2 February 2018
On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a notice outlining extraordinary plans by the social media company to monitor all the postings and messages of its users, censor independent journalism, and use artificial intelligence (AI) to report users to the police and intelligence agencies.
Zuckerberg began his post, released in conjunction with the company’s quarterly earnings report, by declaring that 2017 was a “hard year” for Facebook. “The world feels anxious and divided—and that played out on Facebook. We’ve seen abuse on our platform, including interference from nation states, the spread of news that is false, sensational and polarizing, and debate about the utility of social media.” Facebook, he writes, has the responsibility to “amplify the good and prevent harm. That is my personal challenge for 2018.”
In Facebook’s “newspeak,” this means that the company will act aggressively this year to suppress the spread of information online and censor content, under the guise of combatting “fake news” and “Russian meddling.”
The truly ominous implications of this project are outlined in Zuckerberg’s post. Among Facebook’s initiatives, he writes, is “new technology to detect suicidal posts that has helped first responders reach more than 100 people who needed help quickly, and we’ve built AI systems to flag suspicious behavior around elections in real time and remove terrorist content.”
In other words, Facebook has introduced AI systems to collect, monitor and interpret all the information posted on its social media platform. As always, the introduction of such a sweeping system of mass surveillance is justified with seemingly praiseworthy motivations. After all, who could object to…