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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Facebook papers must be shared with global outlets

Ashraf Zeitoon, the company’s former head of public policy in the Middle East and North Africa, said that even if Facebook does take action on misinformation in non-Western countries, it is usually too late.For example, he pointed out Thousands of fake accounts Facebook recently closed in the Middle East. “I believe there are thousands of fake accounts,” he said. “So everything they do now is decorative.”

Zeitoon said that when Facebook does eradicate such networks, it is usually due to the personal efforts of enthusiastic and loyal employees, not because the company decides to allocate time and resources. “When they say they don’t have expertise or manpower, it’s a bunch of nonsense,” he said. “They have the best brains in the world. But these people’s priorities are more like Western priorities. Jordan’s misinformation network is not Facebook’s priority.”

The danger is greatest in countries where democracy is already in short supply. When people don’t trust traditional media, they often get a lot of news and information from friends. This kind of interpersonal communication-what Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful social interaction”-seems more credible. This is why it is the perfect tool for spreading false information. Authoritarian governments have mastered the art of using Facebook to initiate false propaganda campaigns through fake accounts, fake news, and what Zeitoon calls “a large number of troll army”.

The best way to expose these abuses is to have reporters in these markets check the newspapers in person.I’m the editor of an independent nonprofit media in Beirut, named Public resource(I have lived in Beirut for more than ten years and have been covering the Middle East since 2003.) There are only a few truly independent news media in Lebanon, and we are one of them. We will not get funding from the government or political parties or external powers. (Today, this category includes Facebook, which increasingly funds the news media In the middle east with all over the world.) We have requested a visit, but have not received a response.

Facebook has a lot of power in Lebanon, and Lebanon’s mobile phone usage rate is the highest in the region. Many Lebanese families live abroad, partly to pay for such ridiculously high expenses. Therefore, almost everyone relies on Facebook and Facebook’s WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and relatives. WhatsApp is so important to daily life in Lebanon that in October 2019, when the government tried to impose a tax of $6 a month on Internet voice calls such as WhatsApp, it triggered a popular uprising called the “WhatsApp Revolution.” Western media, but in Lebanon is called the October Revolution or October 17th Revolution-in one form or another that continues to this day.

Facebook’s control of Lebanon is not unique.company’s Free basic courseInitially launched in 65 countries/regions, it took advantage of poverty and low Internet penetration to target audiences in the global South. Some countries, such as India and Egypt, eventually pulled the plug.But as of last year, Toussaint Nothias of the Digital Civil Society Laboratory of Stanford University found that Free Basics still exists in 28 countries on the African continent Alone; Facebook has launched A similar procedure, Called Discover, in many countries/regions, including Peru, Chile, Thailand, the Philippines, and Iraq.

Facebook’s influence in countries such as Lebanon is exactly why my colleagues at The Public Source and I believe that independent media across the globe—not just Western European or English-language media—are allowed to participate in Facebook papers. Outsiders, no matter how skilled, You will always miss stories that locals can locate within a broader framework. This is especially true in countries and communities where foreign languages ​​and familiarity with local and regional politics are key.

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