Facebook And Its Role In Global Politics

Facebook is constantly in the middle of controversies these days. The big tech giant is currently being scrutinised after more than 500 million of its users had their personal information leaked. Let's dig more into the app's role in global politics.

Facebook is constantly in the middle of controversies these days. The big tech giant is currently being scrutinised after more than 500 million of its users had their personal information leaked. It has been facing an antitrust suit endorsed by more than 40 US states since last year, with reports alleging that CEO Zuckerberg will intimidate potential competitors. Let’s dig more into the role of Facebook in global politics.

Crux of the Matter

Ex-FB Employee’s Account
After working for 6 months at Facebook, Sophie Zhang realized that Juan Orlando Hernández had received likes from 59,100 users during June to July 2018. 78% of these users were not real.

Who Is Hernández?
A supporter of Honduras’s 2009 military coup, Hernández was elected president in 2013. His re-election in 2017 is viewed as fraudulent and marked by allegations of human rights abuses and corruption.

Similar To 2016 US Elections
For these elections, Russia’s Internet Research Agency had allegedly set up Facebook accounts claiming to be Americans and used them to influence political debates on the platform. Later Facebook called it “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” (CIB).

Avaaz v/s FB
A report by advocacy group Avaaz says that Facebook altered its algorithm earlier, it could have stopped 10.1 billion views from accumulating on 100 pages. These pages had spread misinformation 8 months prior to the 2020 election.

FB Denies Such Reports
Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told Time Magazine:
Avaaz uses a flawed methodology to make people think that just because a Page shares a piece of fact-checked content, all the content on that Page is problematic.

Making Changes For Good?
Facebook recently said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway global politics, including in Iran and El Salvador. It is also lifting its ban on political and social-issue ads put in place after the 2020 US elections.

Users Can Appeal Editorial Decisions?
Facebook’s Oversight Board will begin reviewing content that has been allowed to remain on the platform despite requests to remove it. Content eligible for appeal includes status updates, comments, videos and shares, on either Instagram or Facebook.

  • The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal concerned the obtaining of the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent by British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, predominantly to be used for political advertising. The app harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook profiles. The scandal sparked an increased public interest in privacy and social media’s influence on politics.
  • In politics, campaign advertising is the use of an advertising campaign through the media to influence a political debate, and ultimately, voters. These ads are designed by political consultants and political campaign staff. Many countries restrict the use of broadcast media to broadcast political messaging.
  • On December 8, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission, along with 46 US states launched an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. The lawsuit concerns Facebook’s acquisition of two competitors – Instagram and WhatsApp – and the ensuing monopolistic situation. 

A Tale Of 2 Lawsuits Against Facebook

A Tale Of 2 Lawsuits Against Facebook

Facebook was hit with two big antitrust lawsuits this week, both of which revolved around the tech giant’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. Let’s see in-depth what these lawsuits say about Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

Crux of the Matter

What Is The Antitrust Law?
In the US, it is a collection of federal and state government laws that regulate the conduct of business corporations and promote competition for the benefit of consumers. Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914, and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 are its main statutes.

Who Filed The Lawsuits This Time?
Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general filed against Facebook for its acquisitions of photo and video sharing app, Instagram and messaging app, WhatsApp.

But Didn’t FB Obtain Approval?
Facebook had obtained regulatory approval when it bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, but lawmakers have recently scrutinized the acquisitions.

What Do They Say?
The suits allege that Facebook used a strategy of neutralizing competitors by buying rather than competing with say, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Even emails from 2012 had revealed Zuckerberg’s thinking about acquiring Instagram at the time because he deemed it as a “threat” to Facebook.

So What Do These Complaints Seek?

  • A divestiture of assets – breaking off Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook.
  • Facebook should be required to get approval from governments before any mergers or acquisitions in the future.

Read More: Top Brands Pull Out Of Facebook Ads

  • The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a charity established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan with an investment of 99% of the couple’s wealth from their Facebook shares over their lifetime. Indian education startup Byju’s announced raising $50 million in a round co-led by The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Sequoia Capital.
  • Mark Zuckerberg is color-blind to red and green and therefore, blue is the richest color for him. Therefore, Facebook’s theme is blue in colour. In an interview, he stated, “blue is the richest color for me — I can see all of blue.”
  • Al Pacino, the American actor, was the first face of Facebook. The site displayed a header image featuring a man’s face obscured behind the binary code. The identity of the man could not be seen clearly, but it later came to light that the face was that of acclaimed actor Al Pacino.

Hooked to ‘The Social Dilemma’?

figurines music

Finding ‘The Social Dilemma‘ all over the news off late and wondering what’s the hyper about? Well, we’ll tell you more about the viral documentary film and the views of critics and its impact on the users of social media and smartphones.

Crux of the Matter

What Is It About?
Netflix’s documentary film explores the rise of social media, focusing on its exploitation of users for financial gain. It goes on to tell how social networking sites are designed to nurture an addiction, spread conspiracy theories and dire effects on mental health of both teenagers and adults alike.

Who All Feature In It?
The film contains interviews with famous folks like former Google design ethicist, co-founder Tristan Harris,fellow Center for Humane Technology co-founder Aza Raskin, Facebook like button co-creator Justin Rosenstein, AI Now director of policy research Rashida Richardson, Stanford University Addiction Medicine Fellowship program director Anna Lembke, and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier. It also involves actors playing a family dealing with a teenager’s social media addiction.

Who Is The Creator?
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski. His most famous documentaries include Chasing Ice (2012) and Chasing Coral (2017), which tells a gripping story of changes in Earth’s climate, brought on by global warming and disappearing coral reefs. So what they did for highlighting real time events of climate change, “The Social Dilemma” will do for Facebook.

Our Data Used As Their Currency?
The relationship between persuasive technology and human behavior is featured by Orlowski, discussing how addiction isn’t a side effect of social media, but rather the industry’s business model that wants more and more of our time and personal data, in order to populate familiar things in our feeds and make us hooked on their products.

Facebook In Defense Mode
It has already started, with the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg hitting back at the documentary for sensationalisation. In a 7 point rebuttal, Facebook says “The film’s creators do not include insights from those currently working at the companies or any experts that take a different view to the narrative put forward by the film.”

What Do The Experts Say?
Being in the top ten list of Netflix for more than a month now, Viewers and critics alike suggest how it throws the limelight on the invisible force driving us from morning to evening i.e smartphones and social media. Documentaries like these can help us become more aware of these daily use products and how we can use them more responsibly.

What Is The Irony?
You just read about the film here, on our Instagram stories. If you are curious, you will watch the documentary on Netflix. Then if you like it, you will chat with your friends about it on Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or any other messaging app trending lately.

  • The Great Hack is a 2019 documentary film about the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. The Great Hack premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Documentary Premieres section and was released by Netflix in July, 2019.
  • The Social Network is a biographical drama film directed by David Fincher based on the 2009 book, The Accidental Billionaires. It was named one of the best films of the year by 78 critics, and named the best by 22 critics, the most of any film that year. The film recently completed 10 years.
  • Netflix was founded in 1997 by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings. Netflix’s initial business model included DVD sales and rental by mail. Netflix expanded its business in 2007 with the introduction of streaming media while retaining the DVD and Blu-ray rental business.

Top Brands Pull Out of Facebook Ads

Top Brands Pull Out of Facebook Ads

Growing concerns over the rampant spread of false information and hate speech on Facebook has started the #StopHateForProfit campaign prompting hundreds of advertisers to stop spending on the platform resulting in $56 billion loss of market value in a single day.

Crux of the Matter

#StopHateForProfit Campaign
After the death of George Floyd and subsequent anti-racism protests, a coalition of civil rights groups namely Color of Change, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Sleeping Giants, Free Press, Anti-Defamation League, and Common Sense Media accused Facebook of not taking efforts to control the spread of racist content online.

The coalition urged businesses to pull their ads from Facebook and Instagram and this movement is now widely known as the ‘Stop Hate For Profit’ campaign. This campaign is now not limited only to the US but also is spreading globally as nearly 160+ companies have decided to not advertise on Facebook for the next 30 days.

99% of Facebook’s revenue is generated from its 8 million advertisers. Though many of them are small companies, there are several big corporations like Unilever Group & Verizon, which alone spends nearly $42 million & $2 million respectively yearly on Facebook ads, that have halted advertising. Some also have stopped ad-spends on Twitter and other social media sites.

Some major brands who have paused advertising on Facebook include CocaCola, PepsiCo, The North Face, Starbucks, Unilever Group, Honda Motor Co, Ben & Jerry’s, Magnolia Pictures, The Hershey Company, REI, and Verizon.

We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.

John Nitti, Chief Media Officer Verizon

After the announcement by giants like Unilever and Verizon, the shares of Facebook dropped by 8.3% along with Mark Zuckerberg losing $7.2 billion of his net worth. Even in the past Facebook has faced backlashes over its handling of user data but its revenue was never seriously impacted by any of the protests. Facebook has lost nearly $56 billion in revenues.

The advertisers are unhappy with Facebook’s laissez-faire attitude towards posts from US President Trump. The organisers of the 2020 US presidential election fear that a highly polarised audience on social media could increase the potential for spreading misinformation and discriminatory content.

Unilever in India has dropped the word ‘fair’ from its popular skin-lightening product called Fair and Lovely. The outrage over the death of Floyd has led to an unprecedented reaction from corporations around the world.

Response by Facebook
Facebook conducted a conference call with over 200 of its advertisers and informed that they were working towards addressing the ‘trust deficit‘. The founder Mark Zuckerberg announced changes in content moderation policy via a live stream.

Facebook will now necessarily not take down posts that may violate its policies, but will instead begin to label them. The posts that ‘may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote ‘will be taken down regardless of who has shared it or whether it is newsworthy. It will also label political speech that violates its rules and take measures to prevent voter suppression and protect minorities from abuse.

I am committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues. But I also stand against hate or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we’re committed to removing that content, no matter where it comes from.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder Facebook
  • Facebook’s main color is blue because Zuckerberg has red-green color blindness. In an interview, he said that “blue is the richest color for me — I can see all of blue.”
  • In finance, FAANG is an acronym that refers to the stocks of five prominent American technology companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet (Google). The term was coined by Jim Cramer, the television host of CNBC’s Mad Money.
  • Facebook users in the U.S. will have the option to “turn off” all political advertising on the platform. The new feature will give users more control over what they see — at least for users who decide to flip the new setting to “off.”

FB Goes Big on Jio

In the backdrop of markets and industries working on thin line due to Coronavirus lockdown, tech giant Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Mukesh Ambani’s telecom company Jio. This deal has the potential to make Jio a digital mammoth that caters to all the needs of its user through a single digital platform.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

The Great Indian Deal
Facebook bought a 9.9% stake in Mukesh Ambani’s telecom company Reliance Jio. This investment of $5.7 billion (₹43,574 crores) values Jio at $65.95 billion (₹4.62 lakh crores). This places Jio amongst the top 5 listed companies in terms of market capitalization in only 3.5 years of commercial launch. This deal is also the largest investment by a tech company for buying a minority stake in another company. It is also the largest FDI in India’s tech sector.

What’s in for the consumer?
The deal turns Jio from a telecom company to a digital giant. A single digital platform that can do the following can come out of the joint effort of FB and JIO:
Calling, messaging
Ticket bookings
Creating, editing videos
Loan applications
Filing tax returns
Money transfer and much more

One focus of our collaboration with Jio will be creating new ways for people and businesses to operate more effectively in the growing digital economy. For instance, by bringing together JioMart, Jio’s small business initiative, with the power of WhatsApp, we can enable people to connect with businesses, shop and ultimately purchase products in a seamless mobile experience.


What’s in it for Facebook?
Facebook has a huge market in India. It has:
a) Facebook users: 260 mn users – highest in the world
b) WhatsApp users: 400 mn users – highest in the world
c) Instagram users: 80 mn users – second highest in the world

Facebook is eyeing India’s huge market which is growing at a fast rate. It is looking to benefit from the 400 mn user base of Jio entrenched till the last Indian. In 2016, TRAI shut down Facebook’s Free Basics plan of providing internet. Facebook’s WhatsApp payment service will soon be launched in India and is expected to compete with Google Pay, PayTM, PhonePay, Amazon Pay, etc. The tech giant is likely to drive unprecedented growth through the Indian market.

Summachar Coverage: Microsoft-Reliance Amity: India A Hot Spot For Their Future Digital Ambitions

What’s in it for Jio?
Mukesh Ambani announced to make Reliance debt-free by March 2021 and this deal could help in deleveraging India’s one of the largest conglomerates Reliance Industries. It had ₹1.5 lakh crores of debt as on the financial year ending March 2019. RIL already in talks with Saudi Aramco to sell a 20% stake of the oil-to-chemical division of RIL. Ambani is also in talks with Canadian private equity firm Brookfield Asset Management for selling a stake of telecom towers. In 2019, Jio joined hands with Microsoft for the development of data centers in India with the help of the Azure cloud.

All of us at Reliance are humbled by the opportunity to welcome Facebook as our long-term partner in continuing to grow and transform the digital ecosystem of India for the benefit of all Indians.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, RIL
  • Facebook bought Whatsapp in 2014 for a staggering $19.6 billion deal. This has been one of the biggest silicon valley deals ever. This acquisition was 10 times the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook.
  • The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal was a major scandal in early 2018 where Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent and used it for political advertising. It has been described as a watershed moment in the public understanding of personal data and precipitated a 17% fall in Facebook’s share price.
  • Soon after the broadband wireless auction (BWA), in June 2010, RIL bought a 96% stake in Infotel Broadband – promoted by Anant Nahata – that had won 22 circles in the BWA. They started to work as a telecom subsidiary of Reliance, and later in January 2013, they were named Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited. Hence, initially, Jio was called IBSL (Infotel Broadband Services Limited).