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Facebook thrives off ‘hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories,’ says early investor Roger McNamee

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Mark Zuckerberg. (Tobias Hase/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

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Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg reportedly failed to convince critics that he has a plan for getting rid of hate speech on the social network; a Monday meeting between Facebook executives and civil rights leaders who have organized a boycott of the company ended without a resolution.

Early Facebook investor Roger McNamee said Tuesday that the impasse isnt surprising, because hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories are the lubricant to the social media giants business model.

They need your attention in order to succeed, McNamee said in an interview on the Yahoo News podcast Skullduggery. Discussing how social media companies use data to target and engage individuals, McNamee said Facebook can easily use this understanding of its audience to manipulate our attention and behaviors.

If you think about a system where youre trying to get engagement, the best way to do that is to scare people or to make them outraged, McNamee said. And what does that? Hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories.

McNamee is an adviser to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which has so far convinced several Facebook advertisers, including Unilever and other Fortune 500 companies, to boycott the social network by withholding ad dollars.

Stop Hate for Profit was created in part to address what McNamee sees as a major flaw in the Facebook culture: that it gives small numbers of really extreme people a disproportionate voice in our politics.

The First Amendment is there to allow people to say things that are awful, McNamee said. Thats not what were talking about here. What were talking about here is the fact that these guys take these voices and then amplify them because thats good for their bottom line. And so what we want advertisers to do is to recognize that they are complicit, that their dollars support this.

Mark Zuckerberg. (Tobias Hase/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg. (Tobias Hase/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

McNamee said the boycott grew in part from the recognition that Facebook had not been called to account for its mistakes.

Facebook has been on a 16-year apology tour, McNamee said. Things go wrong at Facebook all the time. First they deny it, then they deflect it, then they try to diffuse it and, finally, when theyre forced to, they apologize. They promise to do better, and then they literally go right back to doing whatever it is that they were doing before. And that has worked. It worked through the 2016 presidential election, it worked through the U.K. Brexit election, it worked after a genocide in Myanmar that the U.N. said Facebook was uniquely responsible for enabling, it worked for the Christchurch terrorism. Theyve gotten away with everything by just apologizing.

The path ahead wont be easy for anyone involved, according to McNamee. He says advertisers want to get back on Facebook. But he worries that it will be hard for Facebook to be the advertising powerhouse that it has been while also guarding against hate speech.

Facebook has created what I think is legitimately the greatest advertising platform in the history of media, and so every advertiser would like to get back on there, McNamee said. Theyd like the hate speech to go away, but they dont want the other characteristics of Facebook to go away and the problem is I dont think you can have one without the other.

Download or subscribe on iTunes: Skullduggery from Yahoo News 

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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