Three cheers for Facebook employees for challenging Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to run political ads bristling with lies and misinformation.
Zuckerberg defended that practice, claiming FB didn’t want to play the role of censor and restrict the right of others to free expression. That’s hogwash.
The controversy heated up anew as the Trump re-election ran an ad featuring bogus claims about Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.
Millions of people viewed the Biden spot including micro-targeted low-information voters who are very likely to accept the ad as truth since it ran on their trusted FB platform.
About 250 FB employees signed a letter to set the record straight for Zuck: "Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing."
They wrote: “Misinformation affects us all. Our current policies on fact checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for. We strongly object to this policy as it stands. It doesn’t protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.”
The letter says phony ads have the potential to increase distrust in FB and signal that the platform is “OK profiting from deliberate misinformation campaigns by those seeking positions of power.”
At the minimum, the employees want FB to apply the same fact-checking standards to political ads as it does for product/services advertising.They also call for restricting targeting, developing stronger labeling and capping individual spending for political ads.
Extending an olive branch, but:
“We want to have this conversation in an open dialog because we want to see actual change,” says the letter….."Over the coming months, we’ll continue this conversation, and we look forward to working towards solutions together. This is still our company."
You’ve been put on notice, Zuck.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is set to deal a blow to both shareholder democracy and financial PR firms with a plan to slap new limits on proposals submitted by activist investors.
The Financial Times reported that the SEC is expected to vote early next month on measures to give targeted companies two chances to review shareholder proposals before they are put up for a vote and to increase the threshold of shareholder support for a proposal before it is submitted.
Currently, a proposal needs to win three percent of backing from shareholders in the first year that it is introduced to be included in the proxy statement. The level of support rises to six percent and ten percent during the next two years. The SEC measure will up the threshold to six percent in year one and then 15 percent and 30 percent.
The FT says the proposal, if passed, would be a win for pro-business groups, such as the Business Roundtable, and a defeat for proxy adviser firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis.
Financial PR firms, which drum up fees on defeating activists pressing for action on climate change, and executive compensation disclosures and a range of other issues, also will lose as fewer shareholder proposals ultimately qualify for a shareholder vote.
“We thrive on conflict and chaos,” a CEO of a top financial firm told O’Dwyer’s. The SEC apparently prefers a sense of calm to corporate chaos.
The proposals aren’t a sure-fire thing as there will be a public comment period before the SEC can adopt the measures.
During his latest temper tantrum, Donald Trump canceled the White House subscriptions to the Washington Post and New York Times.
Stephanie Grisham, who is quickly giving Sean Spicer a run for the worst White House press secretary ever, took the ball from the head-in-the-sand tweeter-in-chief, and carried it further downfield, vowing to get all federal agencies to cancel their NYT and WaPo subs.
Pulling a number from thin air, Grisham said taxpayers will save “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from denying federal officials access to information that can help them do their jobs better.
PEN America, the writers’ group that advocates for open expression, says dropping the NYT and WaPo subs is “a terrifying and self-defeating effort at vindictive information control that reeks of totalitarianism.”
It believes Grisham’s reference to saving money makes it plain that this "proposed maneuver is designed to inflict harm, aimed to deprive the papers of subscription revenue as well as influence, and to extend a political vendetta.”
The push against two of the nation’s most influential papers “underscores the danger of a president willing to use the federal government to exact retribution against the press, even if the cost is plunging his own workforce into information darkness,” according to PEN.
As George Orwell wrote: Ignorance is strength. He could have been writing about Team Trump.