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Solomon Islands set to ban Facebook in the name of 'national unity' (abc.net.au)
653 points by hentrep 60 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 246 comments



Definitely not because of "

    A few weeks ago, the Solomon Islands Government faced criticism over documents leaked on Facebook that showed how COVID-19 funds for economic recovery had been spent.

    Ruth Liloqula, the head of the anti-corruption group Transparency Solomon Islands, said she believed such leaks were the real reason behind the ban, which she said was "an indication that our Government is becoming very authoritarian".
"


Yup. People in the West don't understand how much of an advantage social media has been in countries where media was always controlled by corrupt businessmen or politicians.

The fact that information about government's actions can spread to a large number of people, without any control from authorities is a first time in history for many. Organising protests without government censorship. Publishing investigations. Alerting the entire country to corruption as it happens.

It's really life-changing and unfortunately I don't think it will last. It's already routine when civil unrest happens to shut down internet. Facebook is a good one to censor but other networks take its place so creating Great Firewalls is next for many (somewhat rich) governments.


People in the west understand it just fine, thanks.

Some of us see an unfortunate trend recently, in which our political powers collude with or badger the owners of these companies to engage in censorship, and find it highly alarming.


Yes. The big question is: what happens in the west when social media is also controlled, exploited or mastered by corrupt businessmen or politicians?

May not require active complicity from Facebook and may even happen despite them.


was this comment written in the past? social media is already controlled, exploited, and mastered by corrupt businessmen and politicians.


Well, technically ... yes.


Which businessmen and politicians control facebook?


Facebook itself, just like other online media companies, _is_ a political entity. My view is that the risk we in democratic countries face is not from political entities co-opting Facebook, it's from companies like Facebook becoming political entities in their own right. We're all well aware of how America's lobbying system works. What I think is much more insidious is companies who control the flow of information pursuing their own political agendas. Twitter and Facebook can have more influence on the political landscape by altering the algorithms they use to promote information than the equivalent of millions of dollars of lobbying. That should frighten you.


> companies like Facebook becoming political entities in their own right

The worst thing that can happen is having Zuck run for president and win. A pesident with a propaganda tool of his own.

In Ukraine they already have a reality TV actor who played a president as the president. Turns out that he's no worse than any other 'real' politician. Guess it's the Ukrainian way of trolling the vote.


Tells you something about the real politicians I guess...


Republican politicians appealed personally to Zuckerberg over fact checks on right wing disinformation and bans of right wing trolls and they agreed to not hold those people to the ToS.


Whichever are willing to pay the most.


Let's say I have loads of cash to spend. How do I spend it to get control of facebook? Presumably there are limits to that control -- what are they? Is "buying ads on facebook" the same as "controlling facebook"?


This is... Silly.

1) You can look at the 5 eyes alliance's assault on encryption. That's literally forcing their will on the company (and others)

2) The TikTok ban demonstrates not only capacity but an appetite to exert to control over this domain

3) That whole "summon the CEO of the company to directly answer questions from the group of people literally in charge of policies around reform and control"

Or we could sidestep these questions and conflate income with ownership


Buy a newspaper, spend money lobbying politicians. Use these to exert indirect pressure. Buy ads for direct pressure. Setup a charity "social media consumer advocacy" to which you donate money used to spoil the activists you cultivate.

Next synergize all these efforts: Have the newspaper write about the activists, have the lobbyists talk about the newspaper articles with the politicians, and bring up the articles during sales talks regarding your ads.


Buying a massive ad slate on Facebook doesn't give you direct control but does give you a lot of say in their policies because keeping you happy becomes tied to their bottom line.

Compare YouTube policy adjustments in light of P&G announcing they were planning to yank their advertising from the platform because it wouldn't rope in what P&G considered to be its worst content.


If you have functionally unlimited funds, you can just use them to astroturf, which, as we've seen, can be far more effective than advertising.

Controlling the content is awfully close to "controlling Facebook". Facebook can decide to stop serving your content, but they've shown no interest in doing so.


> If you have functionally unlimited funds, you can just use them to astroturf, which, as we've seen, can be far more effective than advertising.

Exactly, the amount of psy-ops via bots and entities like the CCP's Wumao Army are going to be way more effective at steering the narrative in your favour way more than any short-lived 'viral' ad or targeted ad campaign.

Furthermore, it can be sustained for much longer periods of time and can foment and incite way more resentment than any controversial or persuasive ad, because of the associations to other conflict-based facebook groups.

This is all really to say that the underlying surveillance economy is entirely indifferent to labels such as 'communism' or 'capitalism' and seem ephemeral and fleeting when the means/methods and desirable ends are the same as each other: manipulation by discord.

The fact that this takes place is not a surprise as psy-ops, conspiracy and counter-intelligence have been the mainstays of every single Nation-state's intelligence agencies; what is a surprise to me is how widely adopted and how pervasive it has been for so much of the Human population when there is SO MUCH MORE interesting aspects of the Internet. And how readily people are drawn to go for such shallow fodder when presented the opportunity to do so.

It's all so High School, and for those of us that got fed up with it when we were (forced) in it we cannot see the value or appeal to any of it: I got a small chuckle in passing from the whole 'Space Karen' spat with Elon after he supposedly tested positive for COVID and was not able to go to the Cape, but rather than waste my time digging into it or anything else related to that drama that led up to it I just kept the stream from the Crew flight on throughout the entire mission and then stopped listening to anything related to that entirely until I had time to watch the Sentinel launch this morning. Which was pretty rad, and dedicated to an amazing man who devoted much of his life to the pursuit of studying and monitoring Climate Science and Ocean levels and made incredible contributions to the discipline before tragically losing his battle with cancer this year: Michael Freilich [0].

His children's recounting of their father was incredibly touching and it made my day to hear their story and relationship with Micheal.

By contrast, I felt physically ill for several days trying to follow the impact of Anonymous' Blue Leaks on twitter without an account during the riots. I'm not prepared to subject myself to such a degrading sense of mental health for what seems like vapid forms of entertainment, especially with so much more beneficial and fruitful things to be in engaged in, both on and offline.

The concept of 'de-evolution' comes to mind anytime I hear about the latest twitter beef that spills over into real life that often leads to violence: Follow Live: Violent white supremacists (proud boys) clash with Liberal snowflakes (BLM protestors)! Its often feels like we're filling in the missing parts to the prelude of Idiocracy.

0: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/people/432/michael-freilich/


make a large donation to one of mark's favorite charities. at the gala, have a casual discussion about the challenges of moderating a large social media platform.


who is mark?


The Atlantic Council and NATO for a start.


You're going to have to define "control" here and explain how it's exercised, other than Facebook being headquartered in a NATO country.

The Atlantic Council are listed as a "thinktank"?


People will leave certain platforms if they become unpalatable. Look at the amount of outrage generated by the very small level of tampering that facebook and twitter do currently. There is a tremendous amount of scrutiny on these platforms.


It's worth mention that there is also a tremendous amount of effort being made by Facebook to prevent such scrutiny. See:

https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-is-going-after-its-crit...


Which has already happened on on western social media. I wouldn’t be surprised to read FB has a policy of deleting the ‘leaked’ information and subsequent pages because an authoritative source (seeded by the government and/or at the will of some random uninformed employee) claims its fake news or some unsubstantiated claim or it’s some ‘terrorist’ group or something. Since only expert verified news from pet western sources are fully allowed to post anything controversial.

This seems to be the direction we’re moving towards.

Their only saving grace is that it’s in a fringe political system that not enough people care about. Or maybe the opposite, there won’t be enough counter outrage to handle the gov organized information suppression networks set up during some past emotionally volatile times without thinking of how easy it will be to abuse.

FB has been only slightly better in this context, by not being stupid enough to interfere with politics of random countries, which might explain the ban.


The major issue with social media right now is that people put an absurd amount of trust into them. It’s a new medium, like radio or TV, which also were major sources of misinformation.

As time goes on, people will put less and less stock into sources of information that have proven faulty in the past.

However, I think this kind of thing takes way longer than anyone thinks, and will play out over many years or decades.


>It’s a new medium, like radio or TV, which also were major sources of misinformation.

>people will put less and less stock into sources of information that have proven faulty in the past.

Do you have any idea of the number of people who inherently trust a 'fact' because it was on a radio or television program?

I'm not sure that your assessment is correct. I think what we're seeing is what we see with TV, there is just less of a way to track it with those stations. - when I buy cable, I get both left and right news stations. I only watch one, but nobody but me knows that. When I use social media, I can access right and left, but everyone can see what I access, and the people who see it can cater their message to me specifically.

Anyway, I think you're wrong. I don't believe people inherently distrust traditional media. I think they distrust traditional media they don't agree with.


I’m not saying people no longer trust traditional news sources, but there is a difference in degrees that has to be appreciated.

Think about the way that FDR used his “fireside chats” to directly message the American people. By making them feel like he was speaking directly to them, many Americans felt like they were given access to a greater level of transparency of government. 50 years later, Reagan and Clinton both still made regular radio addresses, but failed to control their narratives the same way FDR did. Why? Because by that time the farce was up. Most Americans knew that radio wasn’t some intimate conversation between the president and them. There was a greater cynicism about the medium, everyone knew that lying was just as easy over the radio as compared to written statements.

Now think about how many assumptions people make about social media. Even forums like Hackernews. You’ve engaged with me, so you probably have made several assumptions about me.

1. I’m an actual person and not a bot 2. I am personally commenting my opinion and not the opinions of someone who has compelled my opinion 3. I am arguing in good faith 4. I am a single person, not multiple people with the same account.

I’ve made the same assumptions about you. But the funny thing is that NONE of these things is guaranteed to be true. And in some cases it’s not even likely that all of these things are true.

Eventually people will stop making these assumptions, and learn to mistrust the Internet to the degree that they probably should.


> Do you have any idea of the number of people who inherently trust a 'fact' because it was on a radio or television program?

Back when it was new? More than you'd think: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(1938_...


It has also caused massacres in these countries like in case of Myanmar.

Facebook is an effective media outlet in cases where country are too poor to bribe Facebook and too small for Facebook to ignore market altogether.


What is your standard here? If the massacres had been riled up by spreading paper pamphlets you would want to shut down the printers? If it had been though the TV news, shut down the TV stations?

I think Twitter and Facebook should continue to do more to mitigate harms, but the people doing the harm don't get a pass. The Myanmar government must think Westerners are idiots. They kill tens of thousands of people and the general response is Facebook is bad.


The operators of radio stations responsible for promoting racial hatred in Rwanda were prosecuted for crimes against humanity: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/dec/04/pressandpublis...


The radio station operators or the journalists and bosses who created and put the hate material on air?


The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted the three most senior managers of genocide, incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity. They were sentenced to life in prison. The sentences were reduced, upon appeal, to between 30 and 35 years.

A Rwandan court sentenced one of the announcers to life in prison.

This information is easily found on Wikipedia for those curious enough to look.


So no operators, eh?


If you incite violence against a specific group using a specific platform then yes, the publisher has some degree of responsibility for that. What's wrong about that observation?


He just told you what's wrong. It's like putting the blame on the messenger. People need to take responsibility for their actions rather than blame the platform for allowing it to be said. How about you don't say it in the first place? What are we going to do next, ban the air because it enables some bad people to tell and shout their violent opinions and transmits sound pressure waves?


People aren't saying the goverment isn't worse. They're saying that Facebooks lack of moderation is part of the cause and deserves criticism even if they aren't nearly as evil as the Myanmar goverment

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_T%C3%A9l%C3%A9vision_L...

Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) was a Rwandan radio station which broadcast from July 8, 1993 to July 31, 1994. It played a significant role in inciting the April–July 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Widely listened to by the general population, it projected hate propaganda against Tutsis, moderate Hutus, Belgians, and the United Nations mission UNAMIR. It is widely regarded by many Rwandan citizens (a view also shared and expressed by the UN war crimes tribunal) as having played a crucial role in creating the atmosphere of charged racial hostility that allowed the genocide to occur. A working paper published at Harvard University found that RTLM broadcasts were an important part of the process of mobilising the population, which complemented the mandatory Umuganda meetings.[2] RTLM has been described as "radio genocide", "death by radio" and "the soundtrack to genocide".[3]


Who controlled the RTLM? Who financed it? Who created the propaganda? Who placed it on the air?


This information is easily found on Wikipedia for those curious enough to look.


You don't shut down all printers but do you think a company that would let Myanmar print thousands of pamphlets calling for genocide should suffer no consequences or at the very least critcism?


What if the pamphlets had been printed on HP printers connected to home PCs? Does HP have a moral duty to install surveillance software in all their printers to prevent genocide?

More generally, does every company that sells a dual-use product/service have a duty to interrogate the motives of the buyer and apply editorial control over all uses of that product/service that they could conceivably have visibility of?


> What is your standard here? If the massacres had been riled up by spreading paper pamphlets you would want to shut down the printers? If it had been though the TV news, shut down the TV stations?

Yes.

Why is this even a question?


>in countries where media was always controlled by corrupt businessmen or politicians

I think much of the West has always fallen under that umbrella in many ways. Look up "yellow journalism". Hell, look at how the media is currently controlled by corrupt businessmen.


Except now we have corporations controlling the free flow information - which is worse? In a semi free country such as the usa at least we can vote someone out of office that we don’t like. At least we used to be able to and now with all the corruption in voting i’m not even certain of that any more.


Freedom trancends brand names. You don't need facebook to create an encrypted communications channel. You don't need facebook to reach a wide audience either. Honestly, these days it's better not to fly under recognizable brand names or logos because your movement can be easily hijacked by anyone downloading those symbols and reproducing them in different contexts.

It seems the way moving forward will be "crypto-activism" where key individuals distribute information through end-to-end encrypted messaging channels; when they act in the public eye, it will not be obvious that they are affiliated with an organized group. In this way their actions will appear to represent "the will of the people" rather than the agenda of a single organization and it will also shield the organization itself from misinformation.

Just my two cents based on what I observed this year.


In those examples, the authoritarian government isnt tech savvy and able to control the platforms. In China, social media works against people because it’s the main way to communicate and it’s entirely monitored and filtered and meshed with social credit


On the flip-side, social media has also been exploited by those same corrupt businessmen and politicians. For example, in Cambodia, Hun Sen uses Facebook as his main media platform while forcibly closing independent press. At times his page has had more followers than the entire population of Cambodia (reportedly buying followers to cement a vision of popularity).

Source: https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/213282...


Oh but "we" do; after WW2, freedom of the press was held in extremely high regard. It was only after a few decades and American interference (e.g. Rupert Murdoch's network) that the press became more and more political, pushing an Agenda. All bets were off when the internet came around.

Anyway, during WW2 the press was controlled by the occupants (and before, possibly influenced?), so after WW2 we said never again. We still take the piss on newspapers that cooperated with the invaders instead of fold.


After WW2 the press behind the iron curtain was very much not free and controlled by the invading soviet power.


This means nothing when facts themselves are widely discredited.

Until, we curb massive disinformation campaigns and lack of fact-checking in media and political speech...

There will be always be politicians and government officials who will spread falsehoods and work to discredit the truth.

It’s not important for everyone to believe a lie. Corrupt, despots only need enough votes to obtain power and then subvert established norms and laws.


Tor was released in 2003, and yet people don't realise that it's that project (and others like that one) that gives people the freedom of speech.

Tor isn't particularly difficult to use (client-side), the only obstacle is having to remember the links


Social Media is a vehicle for (somewhat random) change.

If your status quo is shit, random change is statistically likely to improve the situation. If the status quo is decent, random change is statistically likely to worsen the situation.


>If your status quo is shit, random change is statistically likely to improve the situation

I even question that. Didn't we have this exact discussion after the 'Arab Spring' already? For a year everyone was elated because the internet was ending the evil autocracies of the Middle East. Turned out in most cases the chaos was even worse than the corrupt status quo

even if you're in a bad place turns out there's still way more ways for it to get even worse rather than better if you roll the dice, you can't fall up a hill


> Organising protests without government censorship.

In Victoria, Australia, the government used social media to track people organising lockdown protests, which led people to be arrested for 'inciting' protest.

Think speak 101.


'Think speak 101' huh. Like when people post that the government was arresting people for inciting protests without context why they were doing so? That kind of think speak?

For those who want context. There's a pandemic. People are dying. The government stopped an anti-quarantine protest before it could cause harm.


In small rural towns people were trying to organise protests that followed social distancing guidelines. They were arrested for 'inciting protest'. Specifically, the accusatory wording by the police is 'inciting' which was then used to charge people, under dubious legal conditions.

All they did was to suggest a protest.

Here's some news articles:

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/police-break-dow...

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-04/victoria-police-arres...

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/02/three...

https://theconversation.com/protests-have-been-criminalised-...

This was enough to get your door broken in and arrested:

> As some of you may have seen the government has gone to extreme measures and are using scare tactics through the media to prevent the Melbourne protest...

> Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those in stage four lockdowns. We can be seen and heard and hopefully make a difference!


>People in the West don't understand how much of an advantage social media has been in countries where media was always controlled by corrupt businessmen or politicians.

You severely overestimate the independence and faux-organic nature of "western" social media. Every last aspect of it is controlled by "corrupt businessmen or politicians".

If you're in "the east", wishing for a system like in "the west", be careful of what you hope for and be cautious of what you actually build.


The serverless/decentralized web could potentially keep it going once that's more scalable and user friendly.


Oh yes they do. And were very happy with it until they understood the nature of social media is not to connect people, but to socialize them into bubbles that become antagonists to each other.

In corrupt places as well as democratic, peaceful places, it creates disruption and discontent through dissemination of (true - or false - doesn't matter) informations that in turn fuels civil unrest.

In corrupt places, this unrest is an opportunity for improvement. In non-corrupt ones, it is an opportunity for worsening.


In corrupt places, this unrest is an opportunity for improvement. In non-corrupt ones, it is an opportunity for worsening.

Rather, in all places it is an opportunity for change. It's just that the upwards potential is a lot bigger than downwards in corrupt places.


> It's just that the upwards potential is a lot bigger than downwards in corrupt places.

I suggest that the opportunity for downward is just as big as the opportunity for upward, if the Rohingya situation in Myanmar is anything to measure by.


Yes and the full downwards potential is more like the holocaust I think or actually larger than that


So social media creating artificial strife amongst people has been a good change? Yea, theres some good from social media, but it seems to constantly require "change". Even in perfectly peaceful circles of societies, its dividing people into radicalized factions all in the name of tribe identity. That and the increasing studies showcasing the detrimental mental health affects it has on people. It truly is becoming more of a burden as time goes on. It's not like social media is truly democratic. They're monarchies that give an illusion of public control.


I was about to say, the unrest fomented in Syria didn't exactly lead to improvement.


The whole world was a magnitude more in the bubble before social media. Many people live their whole lives in a small region.


Yes, definitely valuable. On the other hand, people are demonstrably less generous in their assumptions about other people's motivations and more likely to objectify them in the classic sense if they have not and will almost certainly never encounter them in real life.

Double edged sword to be sure. It's great that people get access to better information, but we need to evolve as a species in order to handle bubbles this big.


A much larger number of much smaller bubbles whose edges didn’t touch each other.

Now we have a few large bubbles who insist that the smaller bubbles become part of them or else...


Yes, the Internet makes the antagonistic bubbles larger, and more angry?, I was just going to write


I think you're missing something about the idea of a bubble. I live around people with many different beliefs, but I am fairly socially isolated from them, meanwhile my information diet consists of a fairly narrow set of ideas and viewpoints. The size of your bubble isn't directly determined by the number of people in it, it's the number of viewpoints, ideas, perspectives, life experiences, etc. you are exposed to.


This is pretty much it. We saw from the Arab Spring that Twitter can start a revolution. Whether you need it or not, whether it improves matters or not. Everyone claims to be some sort of insurgent now.

> true - or false - doesn't matter

I happen to think this matters rather a lot, but not everybody agrees.


It does not matter in the sense that it does create fertile ground for disruption by enabling bubbles of people to form and ostracize each other.

It does matter in the sense that what is built on lies, besides being immoral, is unproductive, as it will always come back to bite everyone.


[flagged]


Why the pretense of nation states and corporations?

Humans run these organizations and humans deflect responsibility for doing anything.

Are you going around gathering a team to free kids in cages? Where is your group that is registering voters to save your democracy? What does Myanmar have to do with non-citizens? Why does the West think the world is their snow globe to ogle?

I have a hard time feeling like this can approach anything resembling honest debate if we’re going to point at the behavior of ephemeral, external objects and ignore how we individually organize our daily life.

You bow to the common time economy. Being good at rhetorical debate is, to me, nothing more than indifferent humans equivocating and deflecting with themes that sound good but mean nothing.

Focus on your society and culture. More often value comes of it.


> Why does the West think the world is their snow globe to ogle?

> I have a hard time feeling like this can approach anything resembling honest debate if we’re going to point at the behavior of ephemeral, external objects and ignore how we individually organize our daily life.

How can these two sentences coexist in the same message? If you argue in favour of focusing exclusively on our personal daily lives rather than on amorphous imaginary entities (fine), then how can you write in an adjacent sentence about "the West", which "thinks"? And what's wrong with watching the world from afar, as if it were a snow globe, anyway?


Humans are often bound by the system around them. Meditations on Moloch is a great article about that (https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/TxcRbCYHaeL59aY7E/meditation...).

So individuals often cannot do anything about it and the only way to solve problems is a change of systems. (This does not absolve one of their personal responsibility to act morally though)

I’m not freeing kids from cages nor registering people to vote, I am not from the US and have never been there so that’s not the issues I have to tackle.

Your point seems to be that we the west should let Myanmar deal with its own problems, when in fact we already play a role in it with having exported Facebook there.

What I see in my society is how Facebook has fueled a resurgence of right wing extremism and led to a wider spread of conspiracy theories. I have deleted my Facebook account but do not see what I can do more than ask my government for better regulation of Facebook.


[flagged]


Personal attacks will get you banned on HN. If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and sticking to the rules when posting here, we'd be grateful.


[flagged]


I don’t know about “non-corrupt”, but we in New Zealand do a fairly good impression of it.


Not to bring computer science into this, but in any system the chance for corruption increases with both size and complexity. New Zealand, while I'm very fond of it and a great admirer of it, is pretty small and notoriously hard to immigrate to.


That’s a surprising comment.

We are one of the easiest countries in the world to immigrate to, and have an extremely immigrant-friendly culture.


The OP's comment resonates with my experience: I'm a Kiwi who's had family members immigrate, as well as talked to many friends and individuals who are trying to immigrate. It's definitely an immigrant-friendly culture (more so now than several years back), but that's not quite the same thing as "easy to immigrate to". Many of my acquaintances (from India, South Africa, and the EU) have found it very hard to find work here, extremely time-consuming and tiring to get through the visa process, and some have had to return home. I'm not saying it should be super-easy, and maybe it is easier than some other countries (I don't really know), but it's definitely not "easy" for most people I've talked with.


You can get work visas for a limited time period, but citizenship is incredibly difficult to obtain.


What about residence? I don't care much for voting rights.


You can vote with a resident visa in NZ.



You can buy citizenship and noble titles starting at £29.99, and the only business ever based there got 'nationalised' after the founders fell out with the royal family. Try again :D


Antartica.


[flagged]


Not the OP but this assertion is at very least a non-obvious as constructive proof requiring vast elaboration and at worst, obviously wrong on the surface with clear existential proof as mentioned by the OP [except for perhaps a idealized definition of the word "democracy" that does not resemble what you actually get on the ground when you implement it.]


> Unless the people is willingly supporting corruption, a corrupt state cannot be democratic, by construction.

There is nothing about democracy or its construction that precludes corruption. You literally just made up nonsense.

> You're just looking for a fight.

No. I believe you are projecting.

> Go for a fresh air walk outside instead.

Go read about the solomon islands. This issue is about corruption in solomon islands - a democracy. Or go crack open a book and learn about democracy and its history. Why everyone from the ancient greeks, who gave us democracy, and the founding fathers, who gave us modern democracy, all distrusted democracy.

As a matter of fact, democracies are by nature corrupt ( tyranny of the majority ) and that's why most democracies have measures to product the citizens from democracy. Rather than regurgitating nonsense you've seen on tv or the news, learn about democracies or take a moment to think about it.


“Arab Spring”


The establishment in the US is also taking advantage of the absurdity of the Trump administration to push for censorship here too, but make no mistake, it's because they want to cover up their own corruption as well, despite arguments to the contrary.


Unverified information about a government's actions.*

Not saying that is the case here, but the truth is this cuts both ways, and I would say this development of free flying unverified information is overall more helpful to bad actors than good.


I agree. The unverified information needs to be investigated by the relevant authorities (prosecutors and the justice system). Under normal circumstances the information would be swept under the rug.


Interestingly enough, a story about government corruption was recently censored by major social media companies.


This is exactly what I'm talking about. That laptop was verified by no one. The media wasn't even allowed to access it.

Yet the story was able to spread like wildfire through the US.

I don't know if it was authentic or the origins of it, and no credible media source was able to verify it. Frankly, the story of where it came from was absurd.

So did that story help bad actors or good actors? I would say bad actors because the people pushing the story seem to be playing fast and loose with verifiable facts and truth.

This is tearing the US apart by the seams. We are now in a situation where the president is openly attempting a coup on the popular vote, and using massive amounts of unverified information that is mostly false to push his agenda of destroying democracy.


> This is tearing the US apart by the seams

Democrats are doing a pretty good job on that on their own. They attempt to force thoughts and beliefs on others, “cancelling” anybody getting in the way. When was the last time you saw a republican NOT getting screamed at by some liberal on any of the popular sites? Even now your comment reads as though you don’t want the parties to work together.

> We are now in a situation where the president is openly attempting a coup on the popular vote

We don’t use popular vote though. We use electoral college. And the media is overplaying this to induce panic from people like you. He’s not going to stage a coup, and if he did, even the republicans would stand against him. Calm down.


> We don’t use popular vote though. We use electoral college. And the media is overplaying this to induce panic from people like you. He’s not going to stage a coup, and if he did, even the republicans would stand against him. Calm down.

This is nonsense. Trump is openly trying to overturn the popular vote in PA, GA, MI, etc. That is how electoral votes are decided. He has openly called for the legislature to overturn the popular vote in these states based on nothing.

This isn't some outlier. He made similar accusations about fraud in 2016, and even in a race during the primaries against Ted Cruz.

He has already tried to stage a coup. We are past that point.

I do want the parties to work together, but I don't know what to do about these 2 bubbles I see being created on the right and left of these very deep fantasy worlds.

It is like the world of LOTR, where you read about hobbits, and then there are all these stories about hobbits and this deep web of information about this world that doesn't exist. Except now the right and left are creating these worlds and people can't tell it isn't real.

This has been a growing problem, and it is now at the point where it is threatening our democracy.


Case in point, when you try to tell a democrat they’re doing something wrong they start alibi seeking.

> This is nonsense. Trump is openly trying to overturn the popular vote in PA, GA, MI, etc. That is how electoral votes are decided. He has openly called for the legislature to overturn the popular vote in these states based on nothing.

Yes, he’s trying to overturn illegal votes, he’s well within his right. Had Trump won and Biden lost you wouldn’t be angry. You’re only angry now because there’s a chance, however small, that Trump can still win and this upsets you. Calm down, turn off CNN, this is not what a coup look like.

Republicans tried to secure the vote with national voting IDs, people are too poor the democrats said. India uses electronic voting to secure the vote, yet we’re too poor. So this mistrust in the voting system is again the fault of the democrats. The truth is there’s fraud in every election, it’s just usually not enough to swing the vote. Did you not read of all the problems with non residents and non citizens getting ballots anyway?

> This has been a growing problem, and it is now at the point where it is threatening our democracy.

Agreed, so let’s go for voter IDs so this question never comes up again?


>>>I don't know if it was authentic or the origins of it, and no credible media source was able to verify it. Frankly, the story of where it came from was absurd.

Much like the contents of the Steele Dossier...


If you recall a lot of outlets didn't want to run the steele dossier. It was leaked by buzzfeed. However, the provenance of it was very clear. We know who wrote it, and who he was working for. It was unverified oppo research and that was also clear.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/columnists/zurawik/bal-...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/11/th...


All it does is further tribalise people. I would be okay with a social media system that did not serve people only the content they would like to see. Also there has to be some sort of gatekeeper to weed out false information. I don’t know how the latter can be implemented in a fair manner besides some sort of arbitration AI that we don’t currently have.


Who should decide what content people should see? Who decides who are the gatekeepers? We are not living in a SciFi world.


As Fricken mentioned the media has traditionally played this role especially before they got rid of the fairness doctrine.


Traditionally the media decided what content people should see. It kept most people on the same page.


This is a textbook example of an authoritarian government banning media outlets that allow criticism.

It's unbelievable that anyone can hate Facebook so much that they side with authoritarian regimes.


> It's unbelievable that anyone can hate Facebook so much that they side with authoritarian regimes.

Who is doing that here? 2 Things can be bad at the same time. Just because people are critical of FB in the west it doesn't mean they support authoritarian regimes.


Facebook is an unstoppable entity we all "hope" will do the right thing by us. But, the reality is that it and all the people beholden to it will do whatever it takes to stay operating.


The funny thing is, Facebook CAN be stopped: if people don't use it, it vanishes. The existence of Facebook is 100% in the hands of the users. The problem is: 3 billion users with wildly varying options, beliefs, and attitudes. There's got to be a name for this paradox.


Do you mean the collective action problem? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_action_problem


Yes, thank you!

I think that very well captures 95% of the effect.

I also think the 5% which doesn't fit relates to the individual profit motive. I don't know how users of social media profit in the spirit of the CAP. I would replace "profit motive" with "ignorance that their passive involvement enables" the destructive direction social media is heading.


A corporation is much easier to get away from than a government. With a corporation you have a choice in whether you want to deal with them. Government not so much.


This is a quaint idea, and I’m sure it was true once. However, in the world of shadow profiles and invasive tracking techniques, it must also be easy to decide whether you want _the corporation to deal with you_, and it is simply not.


No it isn't a quaint idea. I am aware of the existence of shadow profiles and it doesn't invalidate the general point. Them having a shadow profile of me is an annoyance and is rather minor one at that.

However I have no such choice when it comes to Government. Whatever they choose to decide I have to abide by or face fines, jail and other reprocussions. Some of those decisions maybe just which aren't a problem. However some of them maybe unjust. If those decisions are unjust I have almost no direct way to address it especially if I am in the minority.


There is no equivalence between advertising companies tracking what you browse and a government's ability to throw you in prison.


Today. Let's remember that this is an artifact of having strong governments and regulations.

There was much less difference between a government and a corporation if you happened to deal with the East India Company, or US worker towns of old.


The East India Company was a de facto arm of government; chartered as a state-protected monopoly. There’s plenty of examples of things that aren't formally states or formally linked to them taking advantage of weak or absent states to exert extreme power over people's lives (and plenty of examples of systems without a distinction between private power and public authority at all, e.g., feudalism), but the EIC isn't one of them.


The fact that you have to go hundreds of years in the past for your examples speaks volumes.


There is always someone that takes the most egregious examples they can find and then say "well if don't have strong government this will happen" ignoring all proportion and scale to any of these matters and the current reality we live in.

It is simply a deflection from the central point that frequently the state will involve itself in things that it really shouldn't be involving itself in. This is frequenly because it must justify its ever increasing size. Saying that the state should have well defined responsibilities shouldn't be controversial. What those should be is a different conversation.


I hope you're not suggesting the east india company was anything other than a massive mistake..


How do you "deal" with a corporation who controls a significant percentage of the news and information your fellow citizens consume?

I don't use Facebook, but it still has a huge impact on my life.


My fellow citizens can do as they like. The problem is when they require me to consume the same news and information when I have no wish to.


I’m not so sure. I can think of plenty of places that are beyond the reach of my government but well within the reach of most the big tech companies. This might be less true if you’re from the US or China or maybe one of a few other countries.

What device would you use? How would you find information? It’s all possible, but not straightforward. There is likely a good sci-fi or black mirror plot in here somewhere.


If I don't want to use an Apple or Android phone I can buy something else. I have a choice.

If I don't want to use Windows or MacOS, I can use an alternative operating system. If I don't want to use Google's search engine there are many other alternatives. If I don't want to use a companies webmail solution I can setup my own.

It is very simple to not deal with these tech companies.


> It is very simple to not deal with these tech companies.

You may find it easy, and well done if so.

Every step you have listed there is quite hard, even if you let some through (Apple in my case). Some of the things you are cutting out are very good, and that’s how they get you.


Most of it you don't need. I think Stallman is a loon but he was right about the proprietary code making people slaves to it (but probably not in the way he intended).

There is still lots of stuff I kinda have to use but I've managed to massively reduce my use of most of this stuff.

Obviously if your job/business relies on using this stuff then you gotta use it. I wouldn't advocate that you put yourself out on the street for the source code freedoms.


China sure stopped it.


People have been confusingly propagandized about propaganda. That technique for manipulation has been around for a very long time, convincing people that your lies are priveledged secrets. It checks so many boxes for fufilling emotional needs with utter bullshit. It flatters the believer and gives a scapegoat to mean they don't need to try to understand nuanced issues, trade-offs and the cure being worse than the disease. It also provides an easy answer that doesn't mean admitting to yourself that your friends and family have frankly gone far beyond differences of opinion to become outright terrible people.

I have personally concluded that there is no practical difference between credulity and corruptability - both make it easy to get them to support and commit evil. I can only conclude that a lack of critical thinking is a moral flaw in itself as strange it may sound at first blush. But really if greed can get people to do bad things nobody would deny that it is a moral flaw so why should credulity be any different?


Don't force a dichotomy where there isn't one. You can hate both and it's perfectly okay. There are no solutions, only trade-offs (Thomas Sowell).


>"It's unbelievable that anyone can hate Facebook so much that they side with authoritarian regimes."

Who exactly is siding with an authoritarian regime here? The article indicates it was a unilateral decision on the part of the government. The article also states:

>I't has drawn a heated response from the Government's opponents, with Opposition leader Matthew Wale labelling the ban "pathetic" and unjust."


[flagged]


You clearly have no idea what an "authoritarian regime" means.


How does one actually make this claim with a straight face?


Perhaps the trick is to be capable of using analogies.

"Facebook is an authoritarian regime." means "Within the context of users' actions on the platform (and actions of non-users that are nevertheless tracked by the company), Facebook acts in ways that are analogous to how an authoritarian regime acts towards its citizens."


It is a shame only authoritarian regimes dare enforce local laws regarding Facebook. There has to be some local shell company to sue?


Freedom to spread false information indiscriminately does not work with an uneducated populace. Heck even the US can barely hold it together right now.


So the "uneducated" should be fed just "approved" information? Approved by whom?


Bringing the fairness doctrine back is a great first step.


Plenty of alternatives to social media for leaks. Can't imagine leaks are even taken seriously anymore with the flood of misinformation online.


Shhh, don't let the government know about these too!


I'd be interested in seeing how the funds were actually allocated, if the leaks actually leaked out of Facebook or if they managed to contain the leak.


curious as to what that is -- I was unable to find it on the internet. Does anyone have a link to a summary of these documents?


Here in the US, a lot of political noise got raised about regulating social media platforms... After Twitter applied a 'fact check' flag to Trump's account.

And, of course, TikTok ended up on that same administration's radar days after it was used to smear egg all over the RNC. (Through the massive no-deposit no-show ticket pre-ordering campaign.)

Much like in the Solomon Islands, these correlations, are, of course, purely coincidental.


Occam’s Razor


Political gain seems like a pretty simple reason to me.


Sometimes good things happen for bad reasons


War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

Censorship is Unity


Is this at all surprising to you? Censorship everywhere is on the rise, even in the US. We just elected a President and Vice President who have spoken about how more Republicans need to be censored online. During the primaries, Kamala Harris challenged her rivals to join her in calling for Twitter to ban Trump's account. Both Twitter and Facebook spent the last month purging all negative news about Biden's Ukraine scandal from their platforms, which they never did when the roles were reversed.


For island nations, it's not as bad an idea as it might sound. For all the bullshit about connectedness, the basic physical human urge social media stimulates is for conflict. All the other things like sentimentality, status signalling, attention seeking, are parts of the underlying addiction to conflict because in a lot of hind-brains, that sensation represents opportunity. It's a vice.

Outright bans are clumsy, but imposing a cost or bar to entry, like most societies do with alcohol and drugs, might be constructive.

I'm tired of meeting friends and family in person and listening to them spend 20mins one-way unloading all the shit they read on the internet. They're so indexed on things that aren't physically present in the moment it's like talking someone through a psychosis or reasoning with someone with schizophrenia. It's a mass hysteria machine. When I talk to some people, it's like I'm not even talking to people anymore, I'm talking to some node of the internet. We've basically invented language cancer, nice one guys.


> I'm tired of meeting friends and family in person and listening to them spend 20mins one-way unloading all the shit they read on the internet. They're so indexed on things that aren't physically present in the moment it's like talking someone through a psychosis or reasoning with someone with schizophrenia. It's a mass hysteria machine. When I talk to some people, it's like I'm not even talking to people anymore, I'm talking to some node of the internet. We've basically invented language cancer, nice one guys.

It's easy to imagine this being about the news (in whatever format: TV, radio, newspaper) or even ideas in general. This very forum is dedicated to talking about things that aren't physically present.

Maybe I didn't understand your argument, but to me it sounds a lot like you're complaining about human nature.


Do you spend 20 minutes expounding on HN articles to your friends and family without waiting for a response?


Anyone doing that is just a bad conversationalist. I bring up stuff all the time that I read about on HN/Internet, but I do it to foster discussion and keep things interesting, not to lecture people. Conversely, I know people who will talk for 20 minutes or longer on end, despite clear signals that I'm no longer interested, to the point where they have to be firmly interrupted.


There's a difference that's tricky to define. But when we talk about things "that aren't physically present", a good percentage of that talk can be useful to one or more of the participants; though we also do a lot of what the parent is complaining about.

That said, I do know what they mean. I also hate to see people getting almost traumatized by the random crap they find on social media. Especially if it's bullshit - and it's obvious that it's bullshit, but you can't say it, because that would invalidate the other person's feelings. So yesterday, it was "did you know our government wants to XYZ?!?!!" (no, they don't, the news article was lying, as usual). Today it's maltreated pets (could you please unsubscribe from the feeds that trigger you every couple weeks like clockwork?). Tomorrow it'll be a YouTube drama (between a very niche vloggers).

Perhaps it is human nature, perhaps it was also present with the old media. But what seems different is isolation. I remember that before the web became truly mainstream, people would talk a lot about bullshit they've heard on the news. But they would all talk about the same bullshit. People would ultimately take comfort in an understanding that they share the knowledge about the story. Today? Everyone has their own isolated social media feed. So you end up having people unload completely random and unexpected stuff at whoever is willing to listen to them.


...And ironically, OP was falling into the exact same hysteria machine that his/her friends have fallen into.

OP was so eager to regurgitate the popular news narrative that Facebook is ruining the world, he failed to see that in this particular case, Facebook is being banned over online leaks of documents proving government corruption with Covid-19 funds.

The government in this case isn't doing this because they want to protect people. They're doing this because they want to freely steal money without public scrutiny on social media.


> I'm tired of meeting friends and family in person and listening to them spend 20mins one-way unloading all the shit they read on the internet...

One data point: I have family who have never logged in into Facebook or used the Internet. And they spend hours unloading all the rehashed sh*t that happened in their lives, in a one-way monologue.


Yes, but that's their life, not random internet shit.


That's called connecting with people. They unload their shit, and you unload yours.


>Language Cancer

I like the term 'autocult' myself, though it might be too pessimistic for what we're actually facing. Language Cancer implies there could be a cure, which is worth considering.


> language cancer

Verbal coronavirus. Snow Crash was rather ahead of its time on this, although derailed by the author infodumping ancient Sumeria in the middle.


The info-dump was one of the few enjoyable parts of the book.


> For island nations, it's not as bad an idea as it might sound.

In this context, what is so special about islands? The porous nature of borders doesn’t relate particularly strongly to the presence or absence of water barriers.

This comes up a lot with pandemic arguments too.


They’re small


That hasn’t helped an awful of a lot with COVID (the UK and Hawaii come to mind), and in terms of blocking Facebook, I’m not clear on the relevance? I think I need an eli5.


> Outright bans are clumsy, but imposing a cost or bar to entry, like most societies do with alcohol and drugs, might be constructive.

With requiring payment comes the ability to trace where the money came from.

So you're essentially demanding:

- that every social media account is easily connectable to the real citizen ID behind it.

- that governments should assist social networks in their already rampant tracking of users by even enforcing it through legislature.

- by that also that governments build infrastructure which can be used to track the political opinion of every citizen, because that's what they can do if every user account is linked to a real person.

I can understand that the goals behind what you say are noble, but please take notice of this:

When I use FB or whatever, I want to be completely anonymous.

I neither want FB, nor random strangers there, nor the government to track what the real person behind my pseudonym posts on FB.

And that should be the right of everyone. Mundane things such as posting your opinion on the internet should not have huge barriers of entry and possibly individual consequences attached to them.

To not become a fascist country, you cannot regulate social media access.


1) why are you defending Facebook?

2) Facebook demands and aggressively enforces that your profile represents you and has your real name and other credentials associated with your identity. If your pseudonym gets reported it will definitely get banned.

3)

> With requiring payment comes the ability to trace where the money came from.

Yes that's true for literally every transaction on the internet when done with a credit card. Not sure why that's a problem.

> And that should be the right of everyone.

Facebook is a company selling a product. You do not and definitely should not have any "rights" on their private platform. Just like you do not and should not have the right to force a local business to trade with you if they do not want to.


> 1) why are you defending Facebook?

Because once such laws are enacted they surely will NOT only apply to FB but to all other social networks as well.

Classic "pandora's box".

> 2) Facebook demands and aggressively enforces that your profile represents you and has your real name and other credentials associated with your identity. If your pseudonym gets reported it will definitely get banned.

How does FB doing a bad thing currently justify demanding the government to even one-up them and make it legally mandatory to do that bad thing?

- I was aware of them doing this, and if that were the subject of the discussion I would have in fact demanded that they're legally forced to stop doing it.

> Yes that's true for literally every transaction on the internet when done with a credit card. Not sure why that's a problem.

Did you have to use your credit card to write this post?

To post on any other forum for the past few decades?

Would you be happy to give me your credit card data in real life before I start listening to anything you say there?

> Facebook is a company selling a product. You do not and definitely should not have any "rights" on their private platform. Just like you do not and should not have the right to force a local business to trade with you if they do not want to.

FB has taken possession of a now essentially public space of which the participation therein is a central component of having a social life. Try finding a party or any other kind of event to attend without FB access.

If you take possession of a part of the commons along with that possession comes the duty to provide proper access to the citizens which are reliant upon it.

E.g. if you own a piece of land below which there is an aquifer, the government will force you to provide access to the water so the public can drink.

There is no reason why this should be any different in cyberspace.


Typically when someone uses the english idiom, "impose a cost," they are referring to adjusting incentives in a broader economic sense, and not payments.


> With requiring payment comes the ability to trace where the money came from.

There's this thing called "cash". There are (and have been for at least a century) ways to transfer it from place to place, even electronically, in a mostly anonymous way - as mobile minutes, through western union, etc. The farther it has to go, the easier it is to track, but locally, it takes non-trivial effort to track transfer to the point that governments mostly do it when they actually have a reason rather than "just because".

> When I use FB or whatever, I want to be completely anonymous.

Well then, you're doing it wrong. You are violating FB's "real name" terms of service. And also, rest assured that almost everyone of the people you've talked to on Facebook has de-anonymized you, by having your real name in their address book somewhere which they uploaded to FB/WhatsApp/Instagram knowingly or unknowingly.

> I neither want FB, nor random strangers there, nor the government to track what the real person behind my pseudonym posts on FB.

Then FB is the wrong venue. With FB, the only winning move is not to play. They do an enormous amount of work to connect your online FB account with a real world identity. And the almost always succeed.

If you care about your privacy, get off facebook.

> To not become a fascist country, you cannot regulate social media access.

To not become a fascist country, you have to regulate social media.


> There's this thing called "cash". There are (and have been for at least a century) ways to transfer it from place to place, even electronically, in a mostly anonymous way - as mobile minutes, through western union, etc. The farther it has to go, the easier it is to track, but locally, it takes non-trivial effort to track transfer to the point that governments mostly do it when they actually have a reason rather than "just because".

You are right that this COULD be designed in an anonymous way, e.g. with cryptocurrencies, sure :)

It is however naive to believe that governments will actually do that if citizens allow them to require payment for social media access.

It will very certainly wind up being trackable.

> Well then, you're doing it wrong. You are violating FB's "real name" terms of service. And also, rest assured that almost everyone of the people you've talked to on Facebook has de-anonymized you, by having your real name in their address book somewhere which they uploaded to FB/WhatsApp/Instagram knowingly or unknowingly.

That only applies if I tell my real name to any of those people, which I don't.

> If you care about your privacy, get off facebook.

It is impossible to get off of FB without being denied access to things which are a central part of social life, e.g. events.

> > To not become a fascist country, you cannot regulate social media access. > To not become a fascist country, you have to regulate social media.

I'm sorry, my wording was imprecise!

Let me correct it please: To not become a fascist country, you have to regulate social media, but you MUST NOT deny access to it.


I agree everything implemented will likely be more trackable. It's already trackable as far as governments are concerned - both FB and ISPs will gladly give any data requested by governments, and tracking is one JOIN away if you didn't use a good VPN. I was just commenting that it's possible to make the payment untrackable, and not very hard.

> That only applies if I tell my real name to any of those people, which I don't.

FB also correlates by a thousands items if you use the FB app, and (at least) by IP address if you don't.

Hopefully, you never ever logged in to any other website with the same browser (or are using a super strict uBO / uMatrix policy), because that website will likely correlate you through their embedded FB pixel/like button.

> It is impossible to get off of FB without being denied access to things which are a central part of social life, e.g. events.

I guess you are in the US? That's not been my experience in other places. Everything still happens by email as well in other places. (The same cannot be said about WhatsApp - however - which cannot be escaped outside the US; If you meant "including WhatsApp" when you said FB, then I agree - though if you don't backup and don't use WhatsApp web, your copy of the conversation is still private. Metadata and the other party's is likely not.....)


> When I use FB or whatever, I want to be completely anonymous.

Keep in mind it's already against the FB terms of service to use it anonymously. You're supposed to use your real full name.

> With requiring payment comes the ability to trace where the money came from.

One possible solution could be bitcoin. I'd be more worried about where the money is going, though. Do modern democracies need to be collecting even more money from us, to do god knows what with? Would this new tax come with a decrease in other taxes? Probably not.

I think disincentivizing social media is a good idea, but a social media tax isn't the right move. Brainstorming some other ways of doing so:

- Ban certain social media Skinner-box features like endless scrolling, recommendation algorithms, likes, whatever. This is more likely to get to the heart of the problem, but gives the government more control over the internet, private businesses, etc.

- Create alternative social media platforms which don't use the same rage-inducing and addicting mechanisms. These will fail because they are by definition less addicting than the alternative.

- Make current social media unusable by flooding it with spam. This could be accomplished "extra-legally", preferably using AI to make spam hard to detect. This is already being done to an extent by bad actors (Chinese Communist Party, though you don't need AI when you have over a billion cheap workers), but could be done on a larger scale not to sway opinion, but to ruin the platforms altogether.

- Social media companies could use semantic analysis to downrank rage-bait and negativity and up-rank positivity and thoughtful discourse (though hopefully not that hollow "you go girl!!!" faux-positivity you sometimes see on social media). This is uncomfortable because it means social media companies get to engineer our conversations to be whatever they want, but they are already doing this, they're just doing it in a malevolent way.

- Somehow educate the entire population on the dangers of social media the same way we did with cigarettes. Whether through a public information campaign, or by generally getting people to meditate and realize the true important things in life. This is a terrible solution, and obviously social media companies would fight it tooth and nail, but I only mention it because I've heard it seriously proposed too many times. If your solution is "educate everybody", but everybody is currently hooked up to disinformation machines, you're screwed.

That's all I've got. Anyone else have any ideas?


Governments only interest in banning facebook is protecting their own corruption.

Facebook is not nearly as bad as the narrative driven tabloids would have us believe.

Most people get along with it just fine, it's mostly just social media.

It can have a downside, but it's better than having communications restricted.


> When I talk to some people, it's like I'm not even talking to people anymore, I'm talking to some node of the internet.

It's what they call a humanoid interface to the Data Integration Thought Entity.


I can't imagine Yuki Nagato getting all her news from Facebook.


In corrupt hellholes, conflict is a good thing. There will be no change, no reform, no improvement ever without conflict. The key of course is to prevent violent conflict, but banning Facebook isn't gonna address the underlying causes of discontent, it'll just make things simmer under the surface until they explode into violence anyway.

You're thinking about this from a prism of a country with a generally functioning, competent government (i.e. any rich Western country). Solomon Islands isn't that.


Yes, but I do not think it had to be this bad. Thoughtfully mediating the communication of billions of people is a massive challenge but one that could be tackled by the sort of highly intelligent and well funded teams that abound in places like Facebook. Unfortunately Facebook leadership lacks the character to try to fix a problem that is making them billions of dollars. Even if that problem is making the whole world worse off. I think history will judge them harshly.


To quote Niklas Luhmann: "Everything we know about the world we live in we know from mass media" He wasn't thinking about Facebook, but what would you expect people to talk about? Most lifes are not exciting enough to fill a whole conversation.


I did a quick google search as there was scant detail in the actual article itself.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/17/solomon-island...

Some things that stood out to me:

> Facebook has also been cited as a factor in riots that gripped the capital, Honiara, in 2019. The social media platform was alight with anti-government rhetoric in the days after Sogavare’s election and was used by rioters to organise and congregate.

> But observers say China has influenced the government’s decision. Facebook has been, officially at least, banned in China for more than a decade. > In September 2019 Solomon Islands switched from recognising Taiwan to instead embrace diplomatic relations with Beijing. The Solomons are home to a significant Chinese population and Beijing’s influence in the Melanesian archipelago – with the exception of Malaita, the most populous island and which remains loyal to Taiwan – has been steadily growing.

The guardian also has a link to a solomon times article:

https://www.solomontimes.com/news/solomon-islands-cabinet-pa...

> Minister Agovaka told Solomon Times Online (STO) that this temporary ban was made because of the controversial issues raised via Facebook. > “Abusive languages against Ministers, Prime Minister, character assasination, defamation of character, all these are issues of concerns”, Agovaka says.


I loathe Facebook, but I don't see how this is going to help. It might help a bit in the short term, but will it really help long term? Even if it does, how many social networks are they going to ban? Surely someone else will take Facebook's place?

Personally I will be happy if Facebook goes away, but I don't know if this is the right way to do it.


I agree.

Will Twitter be available? Because in some cases is even worse. Will they ban every social network? If so, what criteria will they use to flag a website as social network?

I think their premise is correct. Facebook is bad. But their solution doesn't make sense.


Better than waiting for Facebook to regulate itself or a national government to regulate it away, which might never happen. Incremental progress with the tools available to you.


Ignoring likely political motivations. I’d say you’re correct, technically, but if you have a bias for action this is what is available to you.


Facebook may have played a special part here with their real name policy. Before, it was normal to have a relatively anonymous persona online, which drastically reduces the bullying and reputation risks.


Reputation, maybe, but in my experience people are FAR more likely to bully others online when it can't splash back on to the real world


Far more likely to try perhaps, but it's harder to bully someone in an all-anonymouse space. Still happens of course, but I find it easier to stick up for oneself.


When things are anonymous, there are fewer real-world consequences on the line, so bullying is less impactful. Malicious actors can threaten whatever they like, anonymous or no, but as soon as names are public we've seen that there's a much higher risk (even just perceiving it makes it so) that threats online can turn into threats in the real world.


The overton window is the range of acceptable topics of discussion in society, and is largely determined by a social network's size and diversity. The larger and more diverse a network is, the more likely a statement is to offend someone.

Many of the social issues we see are caused by the overton window narrowing so quickly and fiercely that it's causing backlash. I'd bet that by slowing this restriction, we'd reduce the chance of social and governmental conflicts arising from swift social change. Banning facebook would do this.


I agree with this completely, with one small addendum.

A large and diverse network is likely to offend more as more people come into contact with people they don't already have familiarity with, and less as they are less likely to come into contact with people they do.

Rephrased: I'm better able to tell sincerity from my dear friend Eliza when she says something, whereas those same words phrased the exact same way may cause offense when heard from a stranger at a bar.


While you are right, the growing cancel culture changes this dynamic and makes it potentially risky to offend someone else. If I say the wrong thing that would have been acceptable to say two decades ago, I could have my career ruined and my family put at risk of doxxing. This makes my personal (in)sensitivity irrelevant, the overton window is still restricted and causes social pressures.


I think I'm missing something here . Is cancel culture a big problem in the Solomon Islands?


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How about an "I just learned it's insulting to call some people articulate and now I'm hesitant to compliment any minority co-worker in any way so who are you really helping?" post?


That appears like a reactionary re-interpretation of the concept of an Overton window. Usually the concept is used to explain how previously unthinkable ideas can become mainstream. For example fascist ideas. Facebook was used to expand the range of "acceptable" ideas, perhaps even to the point where they´ve become mainstream.


Thank you, I was not aware of that. Can you provide a source for this so I can learn more? I learned the term from the Wikipedia page for overton window, which doesn't mention its use in the spreading of fascism at all[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window


I'm saying that the discourse on Facebook has expanded the Overton window so that fascist ideas have become much more mainstream. The Wikipedia article (and the sources) talk about moving or expanding the Overton window, not on contracting it. I think the concept of a contracting Overton window is used to make a subtle jab at political correctness. In reality, in the last several years, toxic discourse has been on the rise.


The window is measured in size and location. A window that includes fascism can be big or small, but is likely very far to the right.

Similarly, a window that includes legalizing cocaine while banning political speech would need to be very large, ranging from far left to far right.


90% of my comments here are bashing Facebook, Zuckerberg and similar, but I will oppose with equal force any attempt of a cleptocratic government to censor to stop people exposing their shitty actions.


I truly don’t understand this. People are so opposed to governments adding more and more censorship, especially when it comes to China and what has been happening in HK. And now, they’re almost cheering this as a good thing, just because their hatred for Facebook. It seems people are okay with arbitrarily deciding we can ban websites, as long as they support that decision. How is that any different from a dictatorship deciding what their people can and can’t see?


Because we in general are pretty bad having universally aplicable moral standards. We are tribal apes after all.


It would be really interesting if this resulted in a natural A/B experiment, i.e. by comparing the Solomon's with another pacific island group, we could tease apart social phenomena like cohesion, polarisation, distracted parenting etc.

Shit would get real if we could compare two larger nations, Hungary and Poland for example, to see if any negative effects could be reversed.

Of course FB will come up with all manner of excuses why they can't possibly do this, but here is the rub: if their products were actually good for society they should want to do this sort of research.


I believe humanity had enough of nation-scale a/b tests in just single 20th century. Is it time to draw some conclusions? Nah, noone needs that, also boring. And testing is so much fun!


It would be nice to be able to do some A/B testing with Facebook, but I don't think it would work on a nation to nation basis. There's too many other factors involved. It would be more interesting to try on a very local basis, e.g. if every other house in a small city had Facebook.


This is going to be a bit of a problem for me. I've been working on putting together a computer lab for a school on one of the remote Solomon Islands (as in, fly to Honiara, take a small plane to Lata, then charter a boat for a couple days). Our primary contact lives part of the year in Honiara, and Facebook Messenger is his best means of contact, since it works when almost nothing else, including email, does out there.

People underestimate just how good Facebook's network (computer network, not social network) is.


Give whatsapp a try. Doesn't seem to be under the block, lightweight client, made for poor network areas, shares FB infra (as it's owned by FB)


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<shrugs> I haven't been there. This is what I have been told by the folks I'm dealing with over there. Mind you the island itself doesn't haven't anything.


I read the article and this seems just like government testing the waters for larger censorship plans.

On the topic of Facebook: I've found a lot more instances extremism, divisiveness, and large groups attacking people/companies on Twitter and Reddit.


It's sad that we're so far down the slippery slope of censorship that people are cheering for authoritarian governments.


How did memes, misinformation, fake news and cyber bullying propagate before Facebook and other forms of social media? I know it happened but I don't remember it being such a high-profile issue.


Forums, email chains, IRC, Usenet, etc. there's several things that make it more potent and spread faster now.

For starters the internet is less balkanized, social media platforms are magnitudes larger than the largest forums ever were so an idea can just spread faster and further than before. Email chains could approximate the reach but other factors meant they were less potent and also I think people had fewer emails known in their address books than they generally have friends on social media though I don't have any numbers to back up that gut feeling. Although things are just randomly shared outside of social nets by social media algorithms so that would also help it jump outside of limited social groups too.

Next the medium is just inherently more engaging now that photo and video are first class citizens on the major platforms, they're way more attention grabbing and engaging than a wall of text could hope to be.

Also I think fundamentally there's an imbalance between how easy it is to lie and to debunk a lie and how much each of those will spread. A lie is exciting/angering and people will spread it much faster than the 800 word debunk that explains just how full of crap the lie was (and often how the person spreading it is using it as a trojan horse for other shittier ideas). "Everything you know about X is wrong" spreads faster than "No most of what you knew was basically right and here's the history of X," it's shocking and new vs familiar and old.

Finally I think there's a fair amount of blame on the structure of *feeds and the algorithms that place things on them. It optimizes for salacious, shocking content that gets people to share it because that's what the algorithm selects for (roughly), things that keep users on the site so more ad impressions can be served. Add to that bad actors willing to lie and twist the truth to make money and a decade or so of Darwinian corporate evolution and you've got a pretty nasty combo.


> also I think people had fewer emails known in their address books than they generally have friends on social media though I don't have any numbers to back up that gut feeling.

This is the bottom line.

Back in the day you'd join a forum over a particular topic or hobby. Everyone had screen names. Moderation was tight, if there was politics it was confined to a single area that was easily avoided. You only saw "links" to "topics" that included images, not images.

Now with social media, people share images, memes, quotes, posts, etc. But while before that could be confined to one particular area and wasn't visible with fully anonymous screen names, now you see a real person that you know saying it, in your feed. It makes it feel more real. And get this - 50 people liked it and shared it themselves.

Where Facebook's brilliance comes in - is that it gamed the process of popularity. Most want to have as many "friends" as possible at first, they see old people they knew and want to see what they're up to, want to be popular, etc. But they don't realize that they really just don't want to get to know that many people that well. Some people are insane, some are borderline white supremacists, some are borderline anarchists. Before you never saw that side of people often. Now it's right in your face.

My advice? use social media for what it was originally designed for - staying in touch with friends you actually care about. Not politics. And mute/remove any friend who cares more about their agenda than seeing a good friend's cool vacation or neat artwork or cute newborn.


The assumption that memes, misinformation, fake news and cyber bullying are propagating at a higher rate than before and is a new problem could be reviewed.

It's probably an extension of advertising, behaviour modification and outright propaganda (including agit-prop). Previously newspapers, magazines and televisions were used. Would Facebook etc be giving rise to a new phenomena or is it an existing one in new clothes?

Hoaxes are a good subject to look at, like the dead alien hoax. How did a hoax spread before the Internet?

Assuming new things are spreading, how can we make a vaccine to protect people against hoaxes and fake news but not against advertising, manipulation, behaviour modification and necessary government propaganda?


They did spread, but significantly slower and with less exposure - communication nowadays is fast and pervasive.


Once upon a time, it was called gossip.


Gossip spread much slower.


Wasn't just gossip. It was propaganda, too. We are in the golden age of propaganda due to the pervasiveness or our communications technology and the alert/addictive nature of the communications technology.


It probably spread at a similar rate relative to how fast truth spread at the time.

Lots of old quotes about falsehood spreading faster than truth: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/07/13/truth/


email chains. Super long email chains that you had to scroll really far down to actually see the content


I suppose newsgroups might have been a vector for that -- it's where we got the term "flame wars" though I think the popularity of those waned quite a bit by the late 90s.


You'd enjoy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_Popular_Delusion... ; published in 1841, but covering events of previous centuries. It covers everything from stock bubbles to catchphrase memes that appeared in London and everyone was saying for a few months before they were forgotten.


Newsgroups, IRC, Email Lists, Blogs... The biggest change is the creation of the term cyber bullying. In the "old" days one just didn't pay attention to opinions they disagreed with. Now they seek government to impose draconian censorship on opinions they don't agree with.


>In the "old" days one just didn't pay attention to opinions they disagreed with. Now they seek government to impose draconian censorship on opinions they don't agree with

Excuse me for sounding daft, but I think the intensity with which you are confronted with these opinions has changed drastically. I think you're purposefully being a bit ignorant here; no one (viz: 'they') wants to cancel opinions they disagree with. However to think that false information has the same platform today that it had 50 years ago is also just plain wrong-- and whether you agree with it or not, it does shape the public discourse these days. Unless you want to erode discussions to a point where its a battle of who can fabricate the biggest claim (true or not), you're going to have to accept that in a modern information society we will eventually need some form of controls.

Case in point: https://twitter.com/0x445442 (Seems you have a problem with "Leftists" and like to retweet right wing tweets)


Sorry, but posting this guy's Twitter doesn't prove anything. These are _opinions_ he's posting, and it's the responsibility of other people to decide if they care about these opinions or not.

Back in the day, the internet just laughed at "stupid people". Now it tries to ruin their lives for daring to say something edgy.

"Information controls" is one of the most horrific concepts I've ever heard of.


It proves that this guy has a platform where anybody with internet access to read his opinions. That is the point here-- people's 'opinions' are no longer in some hidden corner, but are front and center of your news feed.

"Information Controls" -- I see you are making some kind of boogey man of this, but this already exists in some forms already (Slander/Libel/etc). I don't know how anyone can seriously argue that anyone should be able to claim whatever they want with no repercussions (especially when that anyone holds a position of power -- you could easily fabricate a story with false pretences to justify further power grabs).


>I think you're purposefully being a bit ignorant here; no one (viz: 'they') wants to cancel opinions they disagree with

Didn't some guy literally get canceled because he posted a study that discussed the effectiveness of violent vs peaceful protests?

random search: https://twitter.com/jenbrea/status/1271148784316108800?lang=...


Hunting down this guy's Twitter in an effort to defame him tells me even you think your argument is too weak to be persuasive. You're working really hard to avoid debating him on the merits of his argument. Leave off the ad-hominem attacks in the future.


And who decides the “controls” and what is false information?


Fairly sure that was an issue as far back as the modem and MUD issue, just that it was happening to fewer people. I remember it being discussed (especially sexual harrasment) in https://www.amazon.co.uk/Surfing-Internet-J-C-Herz/dp/034910... (published 1996)


There's a difference between bullying and people posting things that some others don't agree with. I understand that some will blur the line but there is a difference. Bullying is "Insulting with threats". When someone says, "I believe X" or "I believe X because of Y" there are no threats or insulting going on.


I existed in the early days of the internet, but it was more genuine and it wasn't used to manipulate people and there were no gatekeepers or editors who decided what informations is visible or hidden.


Books were routinely banned in the UK until the 1960s; this basically ended with the Lady Chatterly trial at which the ridiculousness became apparent.


That's so naive :-)))

Check out all the censorship laws in the past and even present. Content ratings, censorship committees present even today in many countries, including democratic ones.

Just for fun, check out how many pictures of Roosevelt showing him as a cripple you can find ;-)


Elon should expand the Starlink beta program to the Solomon Islands


TRUTH is always suppressed in the name of trust/loyalty/compliance/privacy/conspiracy/discipline/patriotism/sedition/job/national security/unity/intellectual property


I am not sure why the need to capitalize but although I disagree with a ban, it is also a huge misrepresentation to argue that Facebook of all platforms is somehow a vehicle for the truth (Whichever truth you choose). If anything it amplifies quite the opposite.


Banning something never works. It only puts less able people in disadvantage. If they want to stop people from using Facebook, maybe they should invest in more transparent media and look why people prefer to use Facebook over different means of communication. If you want to ban something, it means that you assume that you know better than everyone else and that's a breeding ground for fascism. If you ban one thing, why not banning another? Power is a drug.


Why can't Facebook just have a membership fee? I don't mind paying a small amount. It would drastically reduce their user base but it might just be better for society as bot accounts would be difficult to make, younger children with responsible parents won't be able to join (it's a monstrous website that is full of frauds, conspiracy theorists etc and children shouldn't use it IMO ).

I know it's wishful thinking.


Before everyone calls this insane and reactionary, please do remember that Facebook has teams of employees who actively court favor with local politicians and help them craft social media campaigns for election / re-election. There is a LOT hidden behind the curtain.

This isn’t like your mom telling you that you’re not allowed to go on MySpace.


Good move! Every country should actively block foreign propaganda and information harvesting.


I've basically banned it for family unity, so why not?


Because the rules that apply inside a family are different from the ones that apply at society level.


Wow!


Here are some facts before you make any conclusions based on a cursory reading of a news article:

- ABC News Australia is funded by the Australian government

- There are Facebook groups named "Hate China" in support of Honk Kong, these groups are free to operate, why are they not removed under hate speech laws? [0] [1]

- Separatists (Anti-Communists if you read NYT) use social media platforms to create violent mobs, beating anyone in support of Hong Kong unity [2] [3]

- Facebook bans groups and individuals in the US almost immediately if they lean far-right or otherwise disagree with establish norms set by organizations like SPLC (not laws)

- Facebook and Google see themselves as stop gap to prevent bad ideas from forming in the first place or "to prevent the next Trump situation." [4]

- Facebook spies on millions of Americans and sells that information, what would it do to the citizens of a foreign nation?

[0] https://www.facebook.com/hate.china/

[1] https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/We-hate-Ch...

[2] https://www.facebook.com/leeminhohkpalace/videos/81320658571...

[3] https://www.facebook.com/chinadaily/videos/2452021925065490

[4] https://www.facebook.com/ProjectVeritas/videos/2445258202376...


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Yeah that's nice, except this looks like a case of government trying to prevent people from having a form of communication to express discourse about the shady actions of that very government.


>Just nuke the fuckers from your life and you're be so much better for it.

Autocratic regimes the world over approve this message.


In all fairness, the words are 'in your life' not everyone else's though I suppose that might not be what was meant.


And burn the books, and keep out all the foreign newspapers!


facebook isn't really a book


Good.


How is good that a government is banning Facebook to control narrative about their corruption? I really don't understand the Hacker News crowd sometimes.


I wish the EU banned their shit as well. We have other means of communication. We don't need US companies influencing our lives & decision making.




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