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Democrats Should Un-Friend Facebook

13 302 2176
16.11.2018

In their recent book “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media,” P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking describe the surprising role of online communication in spurring gang violence in Chicago. They quote Chicago Alderman Joe Moore saying that, contrary to popular belief, most gang disputes begin not with conflict over drug sales or territory, but with insults hurled on the internet. (Slang terms for online threats, the authors report, include “Facebook drilling” and “wallbanging.”) According to Singer and Brooking, “80 percent of the fights that break out in Chicago schools are now instigated online.”

Chicago, of course, is far from the only place where Facebook — and social media more broadly — seems to have acted as an accelerant to violence. United Nations investigators concluded that Facebook played a “determining role” in fomenting genocidal attacks against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. Hate speech on Facebook incited murderous mobs in Sri Lanka; as The Times reported, “Facebook’s newsfeed played a central role in nearly every step from rumor to killing.” Social media was key to the elevation of brutal Filipino demagogue Rodrigo Duterte, and, as Bloomberg reported, his government uses Facebook as a weapon against his enemies.

Without Facebook, Donald Trump probably wouldn’t be president, which is reason enough to curse its existence. The platform was an essential vector for Russian disinformation. It allowed the shady “psychographics” company Cambridge Analytica to harvest private user data. And Facebook........

© The New York Times