Daily Wire, a far-right news and opinion site, is using Facebook to
spread disinformation ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, and
the social media giant is allowing it to happen.
Daily Wire is a "cesspool
of bigotry and hatred"
that spreads content laden with climate change denial, misogyny and
homophobia. According to a recent investigation by Judd Legum's
Popular Information newsletter, the site is expanding its reach on
Facebook using a "clandestine
of pages that engage in "inauthentic coordinated behaviour"
- something that violates the social media platform's own rules.
the Daily Wire is clearly gaming the system to reach a large
audience, Facebook's founding CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who reportedly had
a private meeting with its editor-in-chief Ben
earlier this year, has taken no action.
the Daily Wire is not the only far-right organisation that is allowed
to spread dangerous propaganda on Facebook.
has a problem. The powerful and ubiquitous social media platform is
willingly enabling hate groups, white nationalists and far-right
extremists, and doing little-to-nothing about the online propagation
of violent hate speech and deception.
recently, Facebook has formed a partnership with Breitbart, making
the "alt-right" white nationalist site one of its featured
"high quality" publishers in its newly created Facebook
alongside such outlets as the Buzzfeed, the Washington Post and the
Wall Street Journal. Breitbart, cofounded by former Trump adviser
Steve Bannon, has been criticised for promoting conspiracy theories,
Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism and white supremacy, and has even
featured a "black crime" section once.
the sentiment that Zuckerberg is pandering
to toxic far-right groups, earlier this year, Facebook sponsored the
of the State Policy Network (SPN) - a Koch-funded network of
right-wing think-tanks and advocacy groups, some of whom promote
Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism.
provided branded travel mugs to attendees, and hosted whiskey and
wine tastings. It needs to be noted that on this occasion Facebook
was not the only tech company embracing the far right - Google
was also one of the event's sponsors and even held a session there on
how the attendees could use Google and YouTube to spread their
black users while amplifying far-right voices
apparent embrace of the far right comes amid claims that it has
failed to police racial threats and harassment on its
platform while banning black
users and removing their posts about racism.
company allows the far right free reign on its platform while
censoring black users' posts about racism as hate speech, because it
relies on algorithms that
are biased against black users to identify "offensive"
posts. But there is more to the tech company's tendency to censor
innocent posts by its black users while promoting hateful and
damaging content by the likes of the Daily Wire than its use of
"racist" AI models.
which has 2.38 billion users worldwide, is a white
male-dominated organisation. According to its own 2019 diversity
report, the company, globally, is 63.1 percent male and 36.9 percent
female. In the United States, white employees make up 44.2 percent of
its overall workforce, Asian employees are at 43.2 percent,
and Latinx employees account
for a mere 9 percent.
to Mark Luckie, a black former Facebook manager, the company has "a
black people problem". In a note he
made public just after his departure from the company in November
2018, Luckie underlined the lack of diversity in its offices, arguing
that "there is often more diversity in Keynote presentations
than the teams who present them" and that "in some
buildings, there are more 'Black Lives Matter' posters than there are
actual black people".
also claimed that the company is failing its few black employees by
allowing the proliferation of hostile workplace culture, saying they
face "widespread discrimination and exclusion". One year
later, a group of anonymous Facebook employees penned an open letter
in which they argued that the racial discrimination problem
within the company has only exacerbated.
free speech as an excuse to disseminate hate
debate on Facebook's role in the dissemination of misleading,
offensive and at times dangerous and racially charged content reached
new heights in September this year when the company announced that
it is not willing to change its policy of not fact-checking political
response, hundreds of
Facebook employees penned an open letter to company executives
saying they "strongly object" to the policy, which they
said "communicates that we are OK profiting from deliberate
misinformation campaigns by those in or seeking positions of power".
Twitter, unlike Facebook, has banned political ads.
defended unchecked political speech on Facebook in a recent speech he
gave at Georgetown University, arguing that the platform he founded
is a tool for democracy helping the "fifth estate" keep
other branches in check. Giving examples from the civil rights
movement in the US, the Facebook CEO said pulling back on free
expression is never the answer and claimed even well-meaning
restrictions on political speech often end up "hurting the
minority views we seek to protect".
King, daughter of Martin Luther King, disagreed. "I'd like to
help Facebook better understand the challenges #MLK faced from
disinformation campaigns launched by politicians," Bernice
King wrote on
Twitter. "These campaigns created an atmosphere for his
comedian Sacha Baron Cohen also criticised Zuckerberg. "If he
owned a fancy restaurant and four neo-Nazis came goose-stepping into
the dining room and were talking loudly about wanting to kill 'Jewish
scum', would he serve them an elegant eight-course meal? Or would
tell them to get the f**k out of his restaurant? It's the same
thing," Cohen tweeted.
"He has every legal right, indeed a moral duty, to tell them to
get the f**k out of his restaurant."
the guise of protecting "free speech", Facebook has allowed
the viral dissemination of political propaganda on its platform
through political ads. It has also repeatedly compromised the privacy
and safety of its users. Some users have already left Facebook - the
company's abusive and troubling practices prompted an exodus and
the establishment of alternatives such as WT
created by Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy
cannot maintain the public trust if it continues to coddle
extremists, turn a blind eye to hate and profit from disinformation.
If Facebook refuses to police itself and act as a responsible and
ethical corporate citizen, regulators must rein it in and force it to
This commentary was originally published by Al Jazeera