Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: RT @thehill: James Comey: “This president, because he is an amoral leader, shapes those around him and that shaping sometimes pushes out so…

James Comey: “This president, because he is an amoral leader, shapes those around him and that shaping sometimes pushes out someone who is a strong person of integrity… but far more often it shapes and bends and pulls in weaker souls.” pic.twitter.com/D5iRkuZyEF


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May 11, 2019
Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: @mikenov zzz
Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: @chrishughes Very good op-ed, I think practically the same. Please, see my blogs and sites, maybe we can work together. M.N.
Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: @JohnDiazChron Good Article on Facebook problem. Look at my blogs and sites, maybe we can develop some ideas for the columns together. Stay well. M.N.
Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: The Postcard from Moscow: The RUSSIAN PLANE “MUSTAI KARIM” CRASH | 3:58 AM 5/11/2019 – Facebook takes on hate, belatedly and selectively – San Francisco Chronicle, and other stories trumpinvestigations.org/blog/2019/05/1… trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/p/all-saved-st… michael_novakhov.newsblur.com trumpandtrumpism.com
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@mikenov zzz Posted by mikenov on Saturday, May 11th, 2019 9:25am mikenov on Twitter Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites)
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Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: @chrishughes Very good op-ed, I think practically the same. Please, see my blogs and sites, maybe we can work together. M.N.

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@chrishughes Very good op-ed, I think practically the same. Please, see my blogs and sites, maybe we can work together. M.N. Posted by mikenov on Saturday, May 11th, 2019 8:57am mikenov on Twitter
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Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: @JohnDiazChron Good Article on Facebook problem. Look at my blogs and sites, maybe we can develop some ideas for the columns together. Stay well. M.N.

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@JohnDiazChron Good Article on Facebook problem. Look at my blogs and sites, maybe we can develop some ideas for the columns together. Stay well. M.N. Posted by mikenov on Saturday, May 11th, 2019 8:41am
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Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: The Postcard from Moscow: The RUSSIAN PLANE “MUSTAI KARIM” CRASH | 3:58 AM 5/11/2019 – Facebook takes on hate, belatedly and selectively – San Francisco Chronicle, and other stories trumpinvestigations.org/blog/2019/05/1… trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/p/all-saved-st… michael_novakhov.newsblur.com trumpandtrumpism.com

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The Postcard from Moscow: The RUSSIAN PLANE “MUSTAI KARIM” CRASH | 3:58 AM 5/11/2019 – Facebook takes on hate, belatedly and selectively – San Francisco Chronicle, and other stories
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Russia in Review, May 3-10, 2019 – Russia Matters

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Russia in Review, May 3-10, 2019 Russia MattersSecretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on a trip to Russia early next week, …
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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Chris Hughes Is Right: We Should Dismantle Facebook


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The opening to Chris Hughes’ much-publicized New York Times essay yesterday—attacking the company that made him vastly wealthy—was almost Shakespearean in its drama. After describing his last personal meeting with the Zuckerbergs—in their house, sharing a hug in parting with Mark’s wife, Priscilla—he lays out in 6,000-word detail how the empire Mark Zuckerberg built should be systematically dismantled and regulated for the good of us all.

Such proposals have been made before, by Elizabeth Warren, myself, and many others, but Hughes’ standing is something else altogether. His history with Zuckerberg and Facebook goes back a decade and a half. As Hughes described in this morning’s The Daily podcast, he actually shared a dorm room with a young Zuckerberg in their sophomore year at Harvard, back when the titan-to-be seemed little different than any other undergrad, worrying about dates and tidying up his room.

Antonio García Martínez (@antoniogm) is a writer and Ideas contributor for WIRED. Previously he worked on Facebook’s early monetization team, where he headed its targeting efforts. His 2016 memoir, Chaos Monkeys, was a New York Times best seller and NPR Best Book of the Year.

The picture Hughes paints of the later Zuckerberg—the young CEO Hughes began working for when he joined the budding social network after graduation—is very different. Much of Zuckerberg’s limitless drive to make Facebook successful was an apparent desire to achieve “domination” rather than mere riches.

My own contact with Zuckerberg as a Facebook employee was limited to a few meetings, but I experienced the company and culture he very much had a hand in creating, and that insatiable desire to dominate was still present years later. The advertising team I worked for and the revenue it produced were relative afterthoughts. It was all about usage and engagement. Sixteen years after the company’s founding, there’s no reason to think it will ever change under his leadership

Two very relevant examples of that drive were the acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. I’ve often joked that the secret to making a billion dollars in Silicon Valley is very simple: merely show Mark Zuckerberg a user growth chart that resembles Facebook’s in its early years. That’s precisely what the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp did, and it would be naïve indeed to claim Facebook bought the companies as anything other than an anticompetitive bid to head off future rivals.

So far, the plan has worked out: As usage of the core Facebook app has declined, the other two apps have filled in the gaps, boosting the Facebook conglomerate’s user growth to almost 2.4 billion people. Users might leave Facebook itself, but they don’t go far, opting for Instagram or WhatsApp instead. In the early decades of US antitrust enforcement, the mere act of buying up rivals to avoid competition was itself a violation. The current antitrust standard views violations through the lens of consumer harm—usually asking whether a merger or acquisition resulted in price hikes. But what does that even mean with a free app?

What it means is a lack of innovation. As Hughes argues, tech sectors with large, unchallenged incumbents—search, social, ecommerce—see relative stagnation as Google, Facebook, and Amazon acquire, copy, or dissuade upstart rivals while growing complacent in their own efforts at innovation. The stickiness of users to those companies might have as much to do with the lack of alternatives as with the quality of the current products.

While I’m less convinced of stagnation at Amazon or perhaps even Google, I see it more at my former employer. Ask yourself this: What new user feature has Facebook launched in the past five years (that wasn’t copied from some other app)? Facebook’s last creative gasp was an effort called Creative Labs, which launched long-forgotten apps like Slingshot and Rooms and was shuttered in 2015.

Or consider the team I worked on while at Facebook, ads. What fundamentally new advertising products has Facebook launched in the past few years? The company’s core moneymakers are the same handful of products launched during those fecund (and desperate) years around the IPO. Some monopolies, such as Bell Labs (back in the day) or Google (today), invest their excess profits in interesting R&D that benefits everyone. Where are the comparable efforts at Facebook that might justify an entrenched monopoly?

In addition to its hold on users, Facebook has a stranglehold on human attention. It is, as the title of Tim Wu’s excellent book on digital advertising puts it, the world’s premier attention merchant. Media—actual content creators like CNN, The Washington Post, or this magazine—must often bow to Facebook’s demands on how content is distributed on their platform, either catering content for Newsfeed distribution or “pivoting to video” when the company decides that’s the next big product play (and regretting it when Facebook changes its mind).

By intermediating that flow of human attention, being effectively a gateway to other media, Facebook can capture those eyeballs upstream of where they eventually land. In effect, all media lives downstream of a large attention river where Facebook has dammed the flow, only to sell your water back to you—water that you used to receive naturally. Plaints about fairness are about as relevant as similar objections to Craigslist devastating newspapers’ classified business in the early aughts. This is just the new reality.

The only way to change that reality is for the market’s referee, the government, to reappear after a several-decades-long absence and change the structure of the game. Which brings us back to Hughes’ proposal for the government to use its anti-monopoly powers to break up Facebook.

One thing worth highlighting is that antitrust is no silver bullet. Much of the positive reception to Hughes’ suggestion can be chalked up to an anti-Facebook animus stemming from the company’s innumerable privacy and content-moderation scandals. But there’s no reason to think a separate, spun-off WhatsApp would be any less responsible for things like group violence in India than one under Facebook’s ownership. Or that Facebook as a stand-alone app would instantly be more inclined to moderate potentially harmful content like bullying or terrorism.

To solve that problem, Hughes calls for new regulation, enlisting the government to frame rules around free speech online. As Hughes himself mentions, the notion of the government placing strictures on free speech is perilous. It certainly fills me with unease, but Facebook doing effectively the same makes me even more uneasy. In a revealing article in Vanity Fair, the team responsible for content moderation at Facebook is referred to as the supreme court, which it effectively is.

In closed-door meetings, employees accountable to no public body make decisions about what can or cannot be shared on our virtual public square. In an alarming irony, calls by Facebook critics for the company to more aggressively regulate content end up being calls for Facebook to assume more power over our lives—something we might one day come to regret. Like Hughes, I believe that if speech is to be regulated at all, it should be done by courts of law and legislators, not corporate policy teams. Zuckerberg himself has publicly stated he doesn’t want this power, and this is one wish the government should indulge. The solution to Facebook’s power is not granting the company even more.

Zuckerberg is a fan of the classics. In my memoir Chaos Monkeys, as Facebook neared total world dominance, crushing one rival social network after another in every country in the world, I somewhat ironically compared Zuckerberg to Alexander the Great, who supposedly cried for having no more world to conquer.

In reference to Zuckerberg, I’d now cite another chapter from Alexander’s life. After years of campaigning through Asia, the emperor faced a revolt from his men, who simply wanted to go home. As with Chris Hughes’ editorial, the revolt was led by one of his oldest and most trusted generals, Coenus, who gave a speech recorded in Arrian’s Anabasis:

“Sir, if there is one thing above all others a successful man should know, it is when to stop. With an army like ours, there is nothing to fear from any enemy; but luck, remember, is an unpredictable thing, and against what it may bring no man has any defense.”

Emperor Zuck may soon find his luck running out against the governments that run the real armies in this world. It might just be time for him to listen to his old general and pack it in, go home with the empire he has rather than pushing for even more domination.


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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Facebook takes on hate, belatedly and selectively


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It’s hard to quarrel with Facebook’s decision to permanently ban some of the high-profile prolific and incendiary users on its social media site. Who among us would want to defend the bile of Milo Yiannopoulos and his racist slurs, the anti-Semitic rantings of Louis Farrakhan or the ugly conspiracy theories of Infowars host Alex Jones who has threatened journalists and suggested the 2012 slaughter of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was an Obama-orchestrated hoax to promote gun control?

President Trump has suggested the Facebook purge of serial haters was part of a pattern of social media discrimination against conservatives. Trump specifically cited his concern that Paul Joseph Watson, a far-right personality who has served as Infowars editor-at-large and a purveyor of conspiracy theories and doctored videos, was on Facebook’s banned list.

Trump has warned “I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH.” He has suggested that the social media’s attempt to arbitrate the limits of free speech explains why “Congress wants to get involved — and they should.”

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First things first: This is not a free-speech issue. Facebook is a private enterprise, and users are free to accept or reject its parameters of acceptable expression. What Americans should be worried about is government interference with free speech.

But this controversy, as with so many others surrounding Facebook — on privacy, on its vulnerability to election meddling, on its suppression of content and exploitation of customer data from legitimate news organizations — is yet another measure of the corrosive effects of its extraordinary market domination.

Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, suggested in a New York Times opinion piece published online last week (“It’s Time to Break Up Facebook”) that the social media giant should be subject to antitrust enforcement. Among his recommendations was that it should be forced to spin off the popular apps Instagram and WhatsApp and that further acquisitions should be banned for several years.

Hughes also suggested that Congress should create a new agency to regulate tech companies, and one of its charges should be to “create guidelines for acceptable speech” on social media.

“This idea may seem un-American — we would never stand for a government agency censoring speech,” Hughes wrote. “But we already have limits on yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, child pornography, speech intended to provoke violence and false statements to manipulate stock prices. We will have to create similar standards that tech companies can use.”

I agree with Hughes on one point: The notion of government censoring speech does seem un-American. It would be precarious to police even if it were not impossibly impractical in the infinite world of cyberspace. The haters who were chased off Facebook and other sites willing to comply with the law would simply find other warrens of wanton waste to inhabit.

The more immediate remedy for Facebook accountability would be to force it to choose: Is it a platform or a publisher?

Facebook has essentially claimed each role, depending on the convenience of the moment.

Here is why it matters:

Under the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a platform is not responsible for the content of its users — in much the way a cell-phone company has no liability for your conversations, no matter how offensive, or Amazon would not presume to control what you read on its Kindle device. This principle was tested in a court ruling that cleared MySpace against a claim from a teen who was sexually assaulted by an adult male who met her on the space.

However, a publisher is responsible for its content, and assumes that role by exerting its authority to select, monitor, edit or delete content — or banish users that violate its terms of service.

So which definition fits Facebook? Is it merely a town square, or a conversation curator?

It has argued both sides.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a U.S. Senate committee in April 2018 that his company is not a “media company” or publisher that creates content. Yet in other contexts, most notably in legal proceedings, it has argued that it has a traditional newspaper-like function to determine what can and cannot be published. Zuckerberg also told the Senate that, “I agree we are responsible for the content,” even if Facebook does not produce it.

So where is this all headed? Even with its most advanced algorithms, Facebook would be hard pressed to cull the haters and purveyors of offensive speech from its 2 billion users globally. Are we headed toward a social media future where Americans separate into their ideological camps, as they have with cable news, right to Fox and left to MSNBC? Is Facebook’s banishment of Farrakhan, Jones, Yiannopoulous, Watson and a handful of prominent others just a warning shot or the start of a trend that eventually will reach your Trump-supporting uncle in Idaho or antifa-sympathizing niece in Berkeley?

Facebook’s moves came soon after the conservative furor of actor James Wood getting locked out of Twitter for his “abusive behavior.” After the Mueller report, the Hollywood star tweeted that “If you try to kill the King, you best not miss” with the hashtag #HangThemAll. The Twitter suspension did seem excessive: the famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about not missing a strike on the king is often invoked metaphorically.

“The purposeful & calculated silencing of conservatives by @facebook & the rest of the Big Tech monopoly men should terrify everyone,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted on May 3. “It appears they’re taking their censorship campaign to the next level. Ask yourself, how long before they come to purge you? We must fight back.”

Nothing Facebook or Twitter could do is as terrifying as government intervention in regulating social media speech. If those social media sites become overly censorious, on the right or the left, there are abundant options to families to share prom photos, birthday greetings or news articles — if we are willing to go there. The same is true if those sites become overly infected with hate.

The cold truth is that many of us are addicted to Facebook, even as we complain about the way it exploits our private information, poisons our democracy, limits our news choices and — depending on one’s point of view — bans voices we want to hear.

Perhaps the ultimate solution is not to break up Facebook, but to break up with it. If we dare.

John Diaz is The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial page editor. Email: jdiaz@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @JohnDiazChron

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Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: Facebook co-founder: Zuckerberg has too much power youtu.be/tgR3smpaV1E via @YouTube trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/p/all-saved-st… michael_novakhov.newsblur.com trumpandtrumpism.com #VideoNews #Trump #news #maga #twitter #potus #usa #america #gop #gay #Mueller #Barr #FBI #mayorPete #Congress #Bernie

Facebook co-founder: Zuckerberg has too much power youtu.be/tgR3smpaV1E via @YouTube

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Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (3 sites): mikenov on Twitter: RT @USATODAY: Former FBI Director James Comey said President Trump would be charged with obstruction if he was not president. https://t.co/…

Former FBI Director James Comey said President Trump would be charged with obstruction if he was not president. bit.ly/2JcAarA pic.twitter.com/elgtRJvXC4


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