Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.
But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn’t have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world’s largest social media company – to sway public opinion.
The Government’s Fingers In Facebook
The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.
Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by “quality,” it seems that they mean “progressive.” The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that’s reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn’t want to get the news from a communist regime?
But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that’s not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company’s initiative to scrub anti-war content and “protest” movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: “Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption.” He continued, “We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.”
The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:
- Aneesh Raman: Former speechwriter
- Joel Benenson: Top adviser
- Meredith Carden: Office of the First Lady
To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn’t too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?
Are Private Companies Truly Private?
The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook’s content, but the level of the state’s involvement in the world’s biggest social media company is a disturbing development.
This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.
It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.