Facebook: Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Running Into Serious Trouble

Facebook: Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Running Into Serious Trouble, by Michael Krieger.

There are two types of users Facebook risks losing going forward. … The first consists of the not insignificant number of Americans who in part blame Facebook and “fake news” for the election of Donald Trump. These types are placing enormous amounts of pressure on politicians to “do something” and you can see Facebook executives starting to squirm. Facebook doesn’t know what to do and risks responding to this political outrage in a manner that could irreparably harm the platform’s appeal.

For example, Facebook executives have recently shown signs of an increased eagerness to grovel to politicians still cranky about Hillary’s loss. Here’s an example from yesterday’s New York Times article, Facebook Has Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign:

WASHINGTON — Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity around divisive social issues ahead of November’s midterm elections.

In a series of briefings on Capitol Hill this week and a public post on Tuesday, the company told lawmakers that it had detected and removed 32 pages and accounts connected to the influence campaign on Facebook and Instagram as part of its investigations into election interference. It publicly said it had been unable to tie the accounts to Russia, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of an indictment earlier this year for interfering in the 2016 election, but company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved, according to two officials briefed on the matter.

Facebook has been under intense pressure to validate the theory that Russia and fake news led to Hillary’s loss, especially from Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Executives feel a need to comply, so they rolled out the ridiculousness above. Facebook has 2.2 billion active users and the company is making a big deal about 32 pages and accounts, which it admittedly can’t even tie to Russia (believe me they’re trying).

Naturally, this didn’t stop Warner from explicitly linking them to Russia:

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who has exerted intense pressure on the social media companies, praised Facebook on Tuesday for bringing the activity into the public but asked for its cooperation in updating laws to prevent influence campaigns.

“Today’s disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation,” he said. “And I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity.”

See how this game works? This is pure political theater and Facebook is now an eager participant.

This is what happens when you become too big, too powerful and then politicians take notice. Facebook’s best days are behind it.