CNN Bashes Facebook for Enabling Far Right, Argues Parler Can’t Be Fixed

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CNN was roughing up Facebook on Friday, using a report from the Tech Transparency Project — which is described as “nonpartisan” but is transparently funded by leftist George Soros. 

In the wake of the horrible January 6 rioting on Capitol Hill, CNN Newsroom hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto brought on tech reporter Brian Fung to discuss a study reported by BuzzFeed where this TTP ”set up a dummy account on Facebook to try to mimic what a far-right sympathizer might behave or do on Facebook and it found that this dummy account got served alongside pro-insurrection posts, ads for body armor, holsters, firearm accessories and other tactical gear that are potentially very worrying here.”

It’s obvious CNN finds it very disturbing that anyone sees advertising for holsters and “firearm accessories,” but especially if they’re right-wing nuts. 

For Harlow, this proves Facebook needs to do more to get content that promotes violence off its platform: “It really seems like what this has become for Facebook, for pretty much all of the social media platforms is a game of Whack-a-Mole. You take one down and another pops up and I know that makes it difficult for them, however this is a platform they built, created and profited enormously from. So, is it not their job to get a handle on this?”

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Fung reported that Facebook is working on that problem, but it is not so simple because all extremist groups have to do is change their name or use “Instagram stories which disappear after a certain amount of time, 24 hours, which allows them to get their message out without being caught by Facebook’s content moderators.”

Harlow then switched to Parler and summarized Amazon’s argument that they are using in Parler’s current lawsuit, “Because they lay out so much examples where they say we told you for weeks to take down this violent stuff, even before the insurrection on the Capitol, you didn’t. You left us no choice.”

After expanding on Amazon’s argument, Fung also reported Parler’s counterargument: “Now, Parler said that it tried to and it was working on building a moderation program when it got kicked off Amazon’s platform. But Amazon said that wasn’t good enough. It has to stay down.’

That program, according to an interview with Fox, includes new algorithmic approaches to monitor content. Still, after the media demanding Parler fix itself, Harlow said that would not be good enough and that Parler is a lost cause, “You can’t build a thing and then say we’re going to work to fix if afterwards. Like, You got to know — you have to have a plan.”

Fixing a thing after it was built is exactly what Harlow insisted Facebook do in this same segment. Facebook needs to modify its content to be more well, CNN-like, but Parler is considered beyond repair. 

This segment was sponsored by Ancestry.

Here is a segment for the January 15 show:

CNN

CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto

10:48 AM ET

BRIAN FUNG: Yeah guys, this is truly disturbing. What TTP did was to set up a dummy account on Facebook to try to mimic what a far-right sympathizer might behave or do on Facebook and it found that this dummy account got served alongside pro-insurrection posts, ads for body armor, holsters, firearm accessories and other tactical gear that are potentially very worrying here. And now Facebook says that the — it doesn’t support this — the ads that praise or support militarized Facebook’s Nick Clegg, a top Facebook exec has said Facebook doesn’t profit from hate, but of course as these ads show, given what we know about the violence that occurred at the Capitol, I think that really raises some questions about whether or not how that statement is true. 

POPPY HARLOW: And, Brian, it really seems like what this has become for Facebook, for pretty much all of the social media platforms is a game of Whack-a-Mole. You take one down and another pops up and I know that makes it difficult for them, however this is a platform they built, created and profited enormously from. So, is it not their job to get a handle on this? 

FUNG: Well, Facebook is working on trying to get a handle on this and it has many standards and policies in place. But as we’ve been told by researchers as recently as today, the company has had to take down several groups that have tried to evade Facebook’s policies and rules on this by changing their group names from “Stop the Steal” to things like “Stop the Fraud” or by using Instagram stories which disappear after a certain amount of time, 24 hours, which allows them to get their message out without being caught by Facebook’s content moderators, all of which makes it much more difficult for Facebook to catch these violent content purveyors. 

HARLOW: Let us ask you, Brian, before you go, about Parler. Parler is another social media site that is largely used by conservatives was taken off Amazon Web Services, basically the life blood or the ability to operate was taken away, they’re suing Amazon, but I thought the response by Amazon in court was striking. Because they lay out so much examples where they say we told you for weeks to take down this violent stuff, even before the insurrection on the Capitol, you didn’t. You left us no choice. 

FUNG: Yeah, and Amazon says that, that is a result — that is a breach of its terms of service and Amazon sent several of examples, dozens of examples to Parler that calls for civil war and assassination of Democratic lawmakers and tech CEO’s including Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. All these members of — high-profile public figures, very specific calls for violence against these individuals and more. And as a result of that, Amazon kicked Parler off the platform. Now, Parler said that it tried to and it was working on building a moderation program when it got kicked off Amazon’s platform. But Amazon said that wasn’t good enough. It has to stay down. 

HARLOW: I mean, you can’t – 

JIM SCIUTTO: Brian Fung – 

HARLOW: Sorry, I was just going to say Jim, You can’t build a thing and then say we’re going to work to fix if afterwards. Like, You got to know — you have to have a plan. That’s it. Jim.

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