SWILLY CORN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — This week, Facebook News debuted for a select group of users of the social media platform.
During the 2016 presidential election, Facebook was weaponized by propagandists and agitators to take advantage of its algorithm and pump out disinformation meant to influence the race. The international intelligence community — more than a dozen agencies — have confirmed on multiple occasions since then that Russian operatives used Facebook as a key component of their influence campaign.
Since then, Facebook has struggled to restore its reputation, while also not stepping too heavily into content moderation. The results have been mixed at best. The company came under fire when it refused to pull down an intentionally false ad by the Trump campaign which incorrectly made assertions about Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Facebook’s explanation — that they don’t want to police political messaging, and that ultimately the users need to be responsible for discerning truth from mendacity — left many scratching their heads. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tried to underscore her criticism of Facebook’s political advertising policy by intentionally running a Facebook ad that claimed Mark Zuckerberg and his company has endorsed Trump’s re-election campaign, which they have not.
Then, just a few days ago Facebook’s founder gave what some are calling an ill-advised speech at Georgetown University in which he attempted to defend the principles of free speech. However, many saw it as an abdication of Zuckerberg’s company’s responsibility to stop the spread of harmful disinformation. This past week, it was announced that the social media company was launching a new service, Facebook News, in an attempt to further help users differentiate between trusted and dubious news sources.
But even that move backfired initially when it was discovered that Breitbart would be included among the publishers that Facebook deems trustworthy. The publication has routinely published outright conspiracy theories such as debunked claims linking crime to race or immigration status. Despite the backlash, Mr. Zuckerberg seemed defiant this morning during a conference call with investors, in which he announced that another publisher would be joining Facebook News.
“The bottom line is that our user demographics are skewing in such a way that it makes total sense for us to consider Breitbart trusted,” Zuckerberg explained. “As investors, you of course understand the need to prioritize profits over humanity. So not only are we welcoming Breitbart onto Facebook News, we’ve decided to add another news source as a sort of companion to Breitbart. It pleases me to announce that the KKK’s Stormfront newsletter will also be promoted and published on Facebook News.”
Audible, shocked gasps from investors and those in the room with him forced Zuckerberg to explain himself.
“Free speech, everyone. Free speech. Sure, I find what Stormfront publishes to be dangerous, racist propaganda like most thinking human beings,” Zuckerberg pleaded with his audience, “but I have to ask you — isn’t it better to give a platform to racists and let them try to gain traction and sway with people, rather than to lose revenue? Also, let’s be real here, if we’re letting Breitbart onto our platform, what’s the real tangible difference between them and Stormfront? Hell, we might even just let 4chan and 8chan directly moderate the Facebook News section. Who cares, anyway, right?”
Once more, a pin drop could be heard. No one quite knew how to respond. Sensing the growing sentiment in the room, Zuckerberg again tried to reason with his investors and staff.
“I get it everyone, I really do. Sure, we could do what broadcast networks have done for decades and deny them a platform. Sure, we could easily justify this because we’re not a public square, we own the servers, and ultimately it’s our duty to protect society from the undue influence of people who might use our massive reach for harm,” Zuckerberg admitted, “and yet, should we? At what point should I prioritize my vacation homes after the good of the people? These are all questions I wrestle with in my CPU, and so far, my personal algorithm is biased toward pretending to care about free speech when I mostly just care about how many people’s personal data we can get our hands on.”
Zuckerberg tried the rationale that users who read Breitbart likely won’t mind seeing Stormfront show up in their feeds too.
“I mean, the venn diagram of people who read Breitbart and Stormfront is a single circle anyway,” Zuckerberg said. “So why not monetize hate speech instead of, you know, not letting it onto our site? Makes sense to me, and I’m sure it does to you.”
Mr. Zuckerberg tried one last time to get everyone to understand the rationale behind including Breitbart and Stormfront in Facebook News.
“Okay, so, to a bunch of people out there, believe it or not, they think The Washington Post or The New York Times are biased, skewed, untrusted sources for news,” Zuckerberg began, “and for a long time we just called those people ‘idiots’ or ‘morons.’ But now, Facebook calls them ‘profit centers,’ and their personal data is how we keep making the money we need to be able to become, eventually, a monolithic, monopolistic force of capitalist nature. Ergo, we have a need to placate them, to let them see the news sources they trust, which happen to be racist and full of lies, and all I’m saying is it’s time for Facebook to profit from those racist lies.”
Before ending the call, Zuckerberg said that Facebook News is still in its beta testing phase, and that more changes could be coming.
“We might just scrap all the news sources and hire your drunk uncle to spew conspiracy theories at everyone,” Zuckerberg said. “That’s called the ‘Thanksgiving Dinner Table’ plan, and it’s there for a contingency type situation. Maybe we’ll just sell our site to the Republican National Committee and let them use it directly. We’ll see. We’ll see.”
Gingrich Explains Subtle Differences Between Consensual Blowjobs And Coercing Foreign Governments To Investigate Political Rivals
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.