This Canadian Thinks

Web Of Deception: Data Collection, Privacy, And Politics In The Social Media Age

September 05, 2023 This Canadian Thinks Season 1 Episode 6
This Canadian Thinks
Web Of Deception: Data Collection, Privacy, And Politics In The Social Media Age
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered about the intersection of social media and privacy? How do corporations like Facebook manage our data, and what does it mean for our democratic freedoms? Join This Canadian Thinks as we peel back the layers of the digital landscape and uncover shocking revelations about the abuse of our online information. From the dark history of data collection to the controversial role of government in controlling social media platforms, this episode is a rollercoaster ride through the minefield of privacy concerns in the digital age.

Did you know that your online information has been weaponized against you? That Facebook cooperated with global governments during the pandemic, feeding them data you never intended to share? We dive into this contentious issue, questioning the ethical implications of such actions. Our debate extends to the use of shame and division as tools for championing inclusion, especially regarding vaccination policies. Whose rights win in this battle – individual or public health?

As we approach the end of this thrilling episode, we shed light on Facebook’s impact on Canadian democracy. The profit-driven motives of such corporations threaten our journalistic integrity and democratic freedoms. And just when you think it can't get any more riveting, we delve into the potential consequences of regulating social media platforms, using the Australian government’s attempts to impose a news media bargaining law as a case study. So, buckle up for an episode that promises to enlighten and engage in equal measure.

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Speaker 1:

Whether we agree or agree to disagree, everybody's got an opinion, and I'm about to give you mine. So sit back, relax, buckle up and try not to get offended. Welcome to This Canadian Thinks. It's called a profile for a reason. It used to take a room comprised of a great many people to create a workup that would then result in a handful of higher-up experts establishing a baseline consensus on who you are, what you like, where you frequent, what you buy or fascinate over. It was reserved for serial killers and abductionists things of that nature mostly because it was laborious and costly, and let's not forget that it would be a violation of the rights of the average everyday citizen. With the advent of the internet and the expansion of its availability to more and more people, it was only a matter of time before the information you willingly input would eventually pile up into a folder along the way. Not unlike the dossier the profile department would have used to hold the relevant findings and information regarding the subject to which they were affixing their gaze. This information has always been known to have the ability to be used for malicious intent, even in its relatively innocuous state of order form. From personal login information, plenty of technology, experts, teachers and parents commented early on that anything you put on the internet stays there. You cannot erase it or remove it in any way. It exists in some pocket of the complex zeros and ones used to explain the content to the digital apparatus and waits, as though having a life of its own, waiting for the moment where it will be called back from its compressed state to once again exist as the information that it once was and still remains. Be careful, they would say, protect yourself and trust that no one is who they say they are. Those warnings are all but mute now, in the day and age in which we reside, ushered in by the social media era, Social media is making us unsocial.

Speaker 2:

Social media is killing relationships. Social media is replacing experiences. Social media has changed the way we live our lives, from the way we get news to the way we interact with loved ones. It's everywhere, it's powerful and it's growing.

Speaker 1:

It began innocently enough, the first being MySpace. Myspace was an online community where you were given a basic website template that you could personalize using codes and plugins. It was more about creating your own individual website and not as much about the actual interaction between the websites themselves. It was great for networking bands, models and other celebrity personas, but it fizzled out once Facebook entered the fray, where MySpace was more about a unique and individual space. Facebook was about a community platform that was shared by everyone, with the end goal being the ability for interaction. Instead of just hearing about someone's recent trip through a mutual acquaintance or by local gossip, that person could post photos and videos directly for you to envy while scrolling through your news feed instead, without communicating with anyone else or even leaving the house. It made keeping up with the Jones's take on a whole new meaning.

Speaker 3:

MySpace is another case where a company just blew it. Facebook had no chance to win. We should not have won the market. The network effects at MySpace were so powerful. The only reason we won was because of the gross incompetence of MySpace systematically over a period of many years.

Speaker 1:

It was the first time you were asked to provide the sheer amount of information about yourself that Facebook required as well. They didn't necessarily ask you to do it, it was simply part of the process. In the early days, the metadata that was created during the interaction with the platform was priceless. Only the tech savvy knew what its exploitative potential was, and at the time, there were no rules or regulations stating that they weren't allowed to pass that information along to third-party organizations, which they, of course, were doing for a fee. Naturally, there weren't a lot of ads back then, which is telling the sheer income generated off the sale of that metadata being lost under new privacy requirements met. Facebook had to make up the difference elsewhere at that point. That's when they turned their algorithms on us and used our own metadata to manipulate the way we interacted with advertisers. Instead of just outright selling it to them, using the things we'd given them voluntarily against us, we'd written our own profiles for free, obligingly filling in form after form and liking and sharing enough that they knew what to offer us, how to offer it to us and what it would take to keep us interacting, distracted and entertained, oblivious to the real-world issues we face, and now inundated with advertisements and sponsored content.

Speaker 4:

Besides, Fox Business has obtained internal communications between the White House and Facebook during the height of the pandemic, and some of these communications that we have obtained we cannot err on TV. They need to be bleeped. The big takeaway here White House officials had an F-bomb-riddled face-off with Facebook, demanding they hand over more data on its users and asking for special tools to target users, all in an effort to get more shots in arms. President Biden's then-digital director, rob Flaherty, asking Facebook if government agencies could have access to more targeting tools. Asking quote since it's a global pandemic, can we give agencies access to targeting parameters that they normally wouldn't be able to? This pandemic power struggle hit its peak as Flaherty and the White House's senior advisor for the COVID response, andy Slavitt, joined Biden's digital director on a call where Facebook employees were berated by the White House for not turning over more data. Flaherty's saying on the call, quote I feel like we're running around in circles. Some partners give us lots of information, some partners tell us to F right off. This feels like we're chasing our tails. If you don't want to give information, just say that. My dream for Facebook to play ball it's about will we get out of this effing mess? I'm not doubting that you were sincerely trying to solve this problem in good faith. I'm doubting that you were telling us everything. After this blow up, facebook delivered a data dump to the White House. Just days later, in an email obtained by Fox, facebook's then VP of Global Affairs, nick Clegg, emails his team with an update saying this he, meaning Slavitt, was appreciative of the data we sent through on Friday and confirmed that Rob Flaherty had said they have never received so much data from us before. The White House did not respond to our request for comment. Meta tells Fox what they handed over was from CrowdTangle, meta's tool that analyzes public content on its platform, something the company has publicly acknowledged they shared with the White House. But these discussions contradict what the White House said at the time, that their engagement with social media companies was purely flagging misinformation publicly available on the site. These communications show they wanted a whole lot more from Facebook and were very angry when they didn't get it.

Speaker 1:

It was the perfect weapon to deliver the messaging required to administer the government's pandemic response. While beneficial in having the ability to communicate with others, it became an echo chamber pretty quickly once the tech companies understood more about what keeps you engaged with their platforms, which is their end goal not the betterment of your health or well-being or your relationships with other people or even human progress, simply that you interact with their platform for the most amount of time possible. The longer you stay away, the more notifications they send you, until they finally send you something you interact with or you log in of your own accord. Try it, you'll see for yourself. Avoid Facebook for as long as you're able. Watch the increasing number of notifications for yourself. Personally, I have the notifications turned off. Now I log in to see what's going on there instead of suffering the increasing distractions.

Speaker 5:

I just want to be a part of your life.

Speaker 6:

What am I supposed to do? You won't answer my calls. You changed your number. I mean I'm not going to be ignored.

Speaker 1:

It's easy to forget that it's a profile, though, to get lost and give away more information than we should be comfortable with. It's made even more difficult by little mind tricks that they use to their advantage, like when they allege that only a genius can answer all 15 questions on a quiz or something to that effect. Everyone wants to think they're smarter than everyone else, so it's tempting to see how you actually stack up, but have you ever noticed how the questions aren't really that difficult or genius level? I mean, I'm not saying that you yourself, dear listener, are not intellectually sound and fully capable, but you should be able to admit that none of the aforementioned quizzes contain questions anything close to that which may require answers that only a genius or an expert in the field might provide. It's a sham, a scam, a boondoggle, and yet countless people fall victim every day and they wonder how come their accounts are always being hacked. Trust me, it's not smart to interact with that type of content. You shouldn't need to be a genius to figure that out.

Speaker 7:

It is my strong conviction that every man, woman and child has the right to a decent life, do they not? A life free of struggles and hardship, free of a bad complexion, free of clogged chakras and free of having to read a single science textbook. Our competitor believes you should have to pay premium prices for snake oil.

Speaker 1:

It was only a matter of time before Facebook would grow to be such a monolith that it could become a dangerous tool in the wrong hands. Problem is we didn't have any control over who created it. We could only concern ourselves with the creation as it was available to us under the supervision of Mark Zuckerberg. It was his baby. We didn't task him with creating it. That's not to say that Zuckerberg is evil although many would contend that he is but rather that we can't vet the people who give us the things we end up integrating into our everyday lives, any more than we can legislate what people can do in their spare time, such as the case with Facebook, originally created by a horny college student trying to establish a means by which to meet women, and having morph considerably from there into what it is today, even Zuckerberg couldn't have imagined what it would become back then. Nor do any of us know what it will further become in the future. However, facebook has shown its uses or, perhaps more appropriately, its flaws in terms of manipulation and exploitation in regards to its user base. Otherwise, why was it necessary to legislate and protect the metadata once it was discovered how Facebook was using the information in the past. Once Facebook's name seemed to become a bit tarnished by their one-sided ideologies and the questionable use of their users' personal information, and in anticipation of a new virtual reality version of the internet, facebook and its subsidiary Instagram, amalgamated under the operating name of Meta. This rebranding was necessary to avoid the growing scrutiny at the highest levels of the Zuckerberg machine of the actions of those found to be employed there, like the extra protection offered by being a corporation instead of a sole proprietor, a mean by which to shield Zuckerberg and his most loyal from liabilities that may surface in the future. Thank you for watching.

Speaker 8:

I've been thinking a lot about our identity as we begin this next chapter. Facebook is one of the most used products in the history of the world. It is an iconic social media brand, but increasingly, it just doesn't encompass everything that we do Instagram, whatsapp, messenger, quest, now Horizon, nazarene and more. Building our social media apps will always be an important focus for us, but right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent everything that we're doing today, let alone in the future Over time. I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we are building towards. We just announced that we are making a fundamental change to our company. We're now looking at and reporting on our business as two different segments One for our family of apps and one for our work on future platforms, and, as part of this, it is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything that we do To reflect who we are and what we hope to build. I am proud to announce that, starting today, our company is now meta.

Speaker 1:

That still doesn't change the fact that meta, as it's now known, was complicit not only in suppressing opposing viewpoints, but in promoting disinformation, in some cases working in direct conjunction with governments worldwide, masquerading as fact that which was not proven through any outside independent testing or full or even majority consensus amongst the medical community. Anything contrary to the company line was disregarded, fact checked and marked to be disregarded by meta. Employees hired to do exactly that Not experts, not scientists, not professionals, not even educators or authorities, simply employees that were told what to do and then trained how to do it. Then meta applied the algorithms necessary to automatically filter a certain set of prescribed content out, and the employees then dealt with user disagreements or concerns when they arose, proving only that meta had become a very useful propaganda tool. Indeed, so long as you agree with the same viewpoints and agendas as the people in charge of meta, then you'll find your safe space at Facebook and Instagram. If not, then you'll be doxxed and your profile will be weaponized against you by those that do. Don't think for a second that governments around the globe did not take notice of this.

Speaker 9:

My name's Landon. I've been wanting to work at Facebook for as long as I can remember. Back in 2020, they had no job openings available here, except for the role of a fact checker. You know, I took the job thought I was just going to be scrolling, you know, my feed and just keeping people honest, but it turns out that is not the case at all. What's the best way to describe it? Basically, it's only certain specific information that they like me. Fact checking. It's kind of complicated actually. It's pretty simple really, but Perfect. Example right here we got a couple in front of a house new home owners. Well, have we fact checked that? Did you talk to the bank? Do they have a mortgage? If so, you're not homeowners Fact checked removed. Remember, like back in college when we all took that class called critical thinking and they would just put kind of all the ideas in public and we would kind of choose which ones were best using our brains. We kind of got rid of all that on the college campuses and replaced it with, you know, safe spaces and stuff like that, and, you know, social media. Fact checking is just the natural progression of that.

Speaker 1:

As more social media platforms begin to attempt to fill the void left by the intolerance of those operating meta, the resulting online communities become smaller cells and more acutely focused echo chambers themselves Contrary opinion all but reserved for trolling accounts. On a differently aligned platform, the debate and back and forth required to find a tolerant and acceptable position on any number of topics disappears. At that point when Facebook once pioneered the way people saw and interacted with one another, meta is now driving out oppositional voices in favor of a rather hollow take on inclusion and equity. Sound familiar? It should. It's the same formula used by progressive governments globally.

Speaker 10:

You want to keep more of the money you earn. I'm afraid that's very selfish. We shall want to tax that away. You want to own shares in your firm. We can't have that. The state has to own your firm. You want to choose where to send your children to school. That's very divisive. You'll send your child where we tell you. Socialists don't like ordinary people choosing, or they might not choose, socialism.

Speaker 1:

It's surprising to me how progressives tend to champion inclusion, using division and shame, seemingly expecting everything and everyone they hate to love them, in spite of the progressive's revulsion of them touting the line that everyone matters and everyone is a valuable human being. Until you aren't, until you don't think or believe the same things they do, until you disagree with their agenda or second guess their motives, then you're less than human, deserving of nothing beyond all hope or compassion, not even worthy of being part of the community or receiving medical treatment. Such was the case during the pandemic. There were more than a few politicians clamoring for people who didn't get vaccinated to be barred from medical care. Should they end up with COVID, cheered on by a terrified voter base desperate for a sense of normalcy, as punishment for choosing to remain unvaccinated except, just like you? Their taxes go to paying for health care hospitals, nurses, doctors, treatments, the vaccines that some people were so proud to take, also taxpayer funded. The unvaccinated have as much right to care as those who made the decision to get vaccinated. They've paid for it just the same. Would the government provide a refund for those who were refused the services they have already paid for? After all, we are expected to accept that we pay all the time so that when it's our time to receive medical attention, we don't pay more out of pocket than the taxes we have already supplied up to that point. When the time comes, when someone needs medical care, it's too late to debate politics or personal choices.

Speaker 11:

The community that faced the most restrictions on their freedoms in the last year were those who made a choice not to be vaccinated. I don't think I've ever experienced a situation in my lifetime where a person was fired from their job or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey, or not allowed to go visit a loved one in long-term care or hospital, or not allowed to go get on a plane to either go across the country to see family or even travel across the border. So they have been the most discriminated against group that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime. That's a pretty extreme level of discrimination that we have seen. I don't take away any of the discrimination that I've seen in those other groups that you mentioned, but this has been an extraordinary time in the last year in particular, and I want people to know that I find that unacceptable, that we are not going to create a segregated society on the basis of a medical choice.

Speaker 1:

To say the health community was in support during the pandemic is to believe whatever your local state broadcaster tells you without question or further investigation, which is a dangerous line to tread, for every doctor or health official that said one thing about the virus, there is another that would refute it. There was, and still is, simply no accord when it comes to COVID-19. Its risk, its means or its prevention. The facts are, there are always going to be illnesses and dangers to the population. It isn't the government's job to keep you unexposed to those dangers, but rather to deal with the results of them. You could jump out of a plane and your parachute doesn't open, causing you to plummet to your death. Do we, then, outlaw skydiving as a means of prevention? Free choice and freedom in general means you are free to make your own choices based on the information you are given. Not that the government or companies such as META should make that decision for you, certainly not that they would make those decisions for you based on things they think might happen, especially when their responses are based on erroneous computer modeling that never resulted in the estimated outcomes in the first place. The government's job is to make sure that we, the people, have all the information possible to make the best decisions for ourselves in our particular and individual situations, even if it means embracing the same means by which to do so as their fellow citizens, working with social media providers to ensure that the tenets of democracy and freedom are equally applied to them. In providing a place for dialogue in the spirit of debate and open conversation, not against or in tandem to a mutual end not befitting the good of the people, such as when they lockstep in propaganda provision.

Speaker 12:

Three years ago started off kind of the COVID response with the 15 days to slow the spread. And yet here we are, three years later and they are still clinging to some of these failed policies. You've seen things like the VAX mandate for foreign travelers. They're doing other things to try to do, but if you look at a lot of the problems that we're facing right now, if you look at the inflation that we've seen, which has been devastating, if you look at the spike in interest rates, which has had a huge impact on businesses and on home purchasing, if you look at even what's going on with these banks and this banking issue. Those banks were operating with zero interest rates. They were doing low bonds with relatively low yield, but the time was good because the interest rates were zero. And then they've now got caught because the rates are spiking and those investments are no longer good investments. You look at our workforce and look, florida has bucked this in many respects, but the workforce in the United States, once the policies went into effect, once all the spending started happening, many people just dropped out of the workforce because of the perverse incentives that were done, where you're basically paying people to drop out of the workforce effectively and how do you get them back? Some have come back, but not all, not even close. We've seen major supply chain problems over the last three years. We've seen huge problems with mental health over the last three years, especially in states that lock the kids out of school for so long. That is not the way you treat young people, and of course, florida is an exception, but you've seen historic education declines in terms of the education performance. And so we're here looking at this three years out. It's just important to say the experts that designed these policies and that were hectoring everybody they were wrong about almost everything.

Speaker 1:

Government should never be in a position to dictate if you can operate your business, restrict your movements or usurp your fundamental personal rights in a free society, regardless of the Trojan horse they use to present it, unless it's deemed to be illegal. Of course, it's illegal to do a lot of things. It doesn't stop them from happening, though. People still murder, drive at excessive speed, intoxicated. Even Many people are well aware of the dangers of smoking, and yet they still smoke, as much as you might like to tell them, they're no longer allowed to do so. Governments ought not ever be in a position to legislate personal decisions. They should only ever be expected to deal with the fallout of the decisions that the public at large chooses to make. The government may make it more and more difficult to smoke in certain places and increase the tobacco taxes in hopes of making them unaffordable, but they aren't going around and physically taking the cigarettes out of your pocket, and we have real scientific proof that smoking unequivocally causes increased health concerns. We can't say the same for COVID-19. In fact, most politicians can't tell you any consistent facts regarding the virus almost four years later, and health professionals are no different.

Speaker 6:

You know, if you were to follow a busy doctor as he makes his daily round of calls, you would find yourself having a mighty busy time keeping up with him. Timeout for many men of medicine usually means just long enough to enjoy a cigarette. And because they know what a pleasure it is to smoke a mild, good tasting cigarette, they're particular about the brand they choose. In a repeated national survey, doctors in all branches of medicine, doctors in all parts of the country were asked what cigarette do you smoke, doctor? Once again, the brand named most was Camel. Yes, according to this repeated nationwide survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette. Why not change to Camels for the next 30 days and see what a difference it makes in your smoking enjoyment. See how Camels agree with your throat. See how mild and good tasting a cigarette can be.

Speaker 1:

Meanwhile, Meta continues to fact check and label false anything contrary to their interpretation of the official narrative, pushing out opposing dialogue and cancelling anyone who dares not fall in line driving opposition to alternate providers. That not only further label the individuals comprising the user base of the other platforms based on their association and interaction with the alternate provider. Progressive content is welcome on YouTube, but conservative content is better received on Rumble. Eventually, they can write you off as part of the group entirely, without even having to investigate what it is you might be saying because you're part of an echo chamber of dissenting ideologies. No one seems to understand this. When they're deleting their Facebook profiles in favor of a new account on true social Mewe, etc. They are pigeonholing themselves and completing their profile of themselves themselves, Further alienating themselves from those whose minds they might like to change. It's a vicious dog eat dog cycle that we must endeavor to end.

Speaker 13:

If we want more competition, we need an open and free internet. Justin Trudeau has tried to shut down competition by passing censorship laws that give a powerful central bureaucracy the control over what Canadians see and say. What that bill will do is reinforce oligopolies. It will limit the number of voices that can compete for Canadians' interests. I don't think that Canadians should be forced just to listen to the powerful corporate or state-funded media. I think that it should be free speech, freedom of the press, and then let Canadians decide what they read, what they see and what they believe online.

Speaker 1:

Why would the government take Meta head on, given its apparent use as a propaganda and social order tool? It's more than just the protection of Canadian media companies, although that is a part of it. Their payments to the media companies and operational bailout money and subsidization means they also have to protect their investment. The Canadian content argument is simply the launching point fair pay, the reasoning and the ability for more government control regarding social providers, the end aim. You see, social media in its many forms is a bit of a rogue messenger. While it operates under the guidelines and laws drafted for similar companies, it is an every-volving thing which was not considered during the initial legislation enacted around the internet shortly after its advent. Even as it exists in its current form, it is subject to change. The government knows this in endeavors to keep up, but has struggled to do so up to this point. By enacting legislation which forces MetaHead's compliance to any degree, it sets the stage for future government power grabs or attempts to secure control of social media sites and accounts, limiting content or removing it entirely. Orwell feared the government would ban all books and Huxley feared that there would come a day when there wasn't a book worthy of banishment. But as social media and our online lives converge with our real counterparts, our collective fear should be that there will one day be no books at all. The digitization of our information renders hard copies into simple backups on yet another hard drive. There is no physical and tangible article. All it takes is for the powers that be to decree that certain information is inflammatory and then for them to decide to remove it, instantly, vanishing, from every online library or digital book hosting site. In time, they'll likely find a way to corrupt every file downloaded containing it, so that, even if it were downloaded and saved offline, it would be corrupted and unreadable upon future extraction. So, too, with art, movies, music, podcasts, news articles. The list may be never ending.

Speaker 14:

It's a question of education to teach people to be on their guard against the sort of verbal booby traps into which they're always being led, to analyze the kind of things that are said to them. I think it's terribly important to insist on individual values, that every human being is unique, and it is, of course, on this genetic basis that the whole idea of the value of freedom is base. There are a number of impersonal forces which are pushing in the direction of less and less freedom. The first of them can be called overpopulation. The whole essence of biological life on earth is a question of balance, and what we have done is to practice death control in the most intensive manner, without balancing this with birth control. At the other end, in the underdeveloped countries, people have less to eat and less goods, and the central government has to take over more and more responsibility for keeping the trip of state on an even peel. And then, of course, you're likely to get social unrest. Under such conditions, with, again, an intervention of the central government, one sees here a pattern which seems to be pushing very strongly towards a totalitarian regime.

Speaker 1:

Which is why the government clamors to tighten its grip on social media providers by seizing more and more control. The government can subvert the social media platforms for their own purpose. Allowing them to exploit it fully is the propaganda dissemination device that it is already fast becoming, except that it's Mark Zuckerberg who has final say as we speak, and that doesn't allow enough leeway for the governments to use it the way the government would like. They require more, if not full control of the platforms for them to be adequately utilized. That the government desires, which is why attempts on behalf of the government to seize control of social media platforms must be rallied against from every region of the planet.

Speaker 6:

nd of course Spartans have their reputation to consider.

Speaker 3:

Choose your next words carefully, Dionitis. They may be your last as king.

Speaker 7:

You bring the crowns and heads of conquered kings to my city steps.

Speaker 9:

You insult my queen. You threaten my people with slavery and death.

Speaker 6:

Oh, I've chosen my words carefully Persian Perhaps you should have done the same.

Speaker 13:

This is blasphemy, this is madness. Madness, this is SPARTA.

Speaker 1:

The media will assist the government in painting a picture of Meta that would have you believe that Meta alone is responsible for the lack of information during recent fires, for example, as though it's not the government's duty to inform citizens of such events, but rather the social providers. If there is a disconnect between relative information or an issue with that information being readily spread throughout the population, then it is the fault of the government, not Meta, that that did indeed occur. Certainly, having news unavailable on Facebook and Instagram was inconvenient for many, but what steps did the government take to address the situation and get the information out via any other means? Nothing. They took absolutely no extra measures to ensure that the information was readily available, deciding instead to deride Meta as being fully to blame for the lack of timely emergency information. Trudeau's resulting temper tantrum focused on throwing shade at the tech companies instead of providing any reasonable solutions or acknowledging that his government's current legislation may have exacerbated the situation even somewhat slightly. Instead, trudeau simply offers more jejun remarks with nougatory contributions to anything with even the most remote resemblance of a forward-thinking plan, pointing his fingers at others in a poor attempt to deflect blame from himself.

Speaker 16:

I do want to say a couple of words about the devastating wildfires in the Northwest Territories and in British Columbia. People are facing horrific situations. People are fleeing for their lives, they're worried about their communities, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast are watching in horror the images of apocalyptic devastation and fires going on in communities that so many of us know and so many of us have friends in. This is a scary and heartbreaking time for people. People have questions of whether they've lost their homes, about whether they need to evacuate, about how things are going, and that's where local news is so important, and the work that people are doing to share messages and keep people informed with safe, up-to-date information is unbelievably essential to keeping Canadians safe. That's why and I'm going to make a comment on this it is so inconceivable that a company like Facebook is choosing to put corporate profits ahead of ensuring that local news organizations can get up-to-date information to Canadians and reach them, where Canadians spend a lot of their time online on social media, on Facebook. Facebook made billions of dollars in profits over the past years, including off of Canadians, and we recently passed legislation that says Facebook if you're going to be sharing news or work done by Canadian journalists or local news, you have to make sure they're compensated for it fairly Well, instead of making sure that local journalists are fairly paid for keeping Canadians informed on things like wildfires, facebook is blocking news from its sites. In a larger picture, that's bad for democracy, because democracy depends on people being able to trust high-quality journalism of all sorts of different perspectives and points of view. But right now, in an emergency situation where up-to-date local information is more important than ever, facebook's putting corporate profits ahead of people's safety, ahead of supporting quality local journalism. This is not the time for that. This is the time for Canadians to continue to pull together and be there for each other. It's time for us to expect more from corporations like Facebook that are making billions of dollars off of Canadians.

Speaker 1:

Granted, people are complacent and tend to become reliant on items of convenience, so it's easy to see how it might be difficult to get people to accept a new form of communication, especially in an emergency environment. However, there are plenty of apparatus that existed prior to Facebook that were useful in helping to ensure the free flow of information in an emergency. After all, it wasn't until September 26, 2006 that Facebook opened to everyone at least 13 years old with a valid email address. What did we do prior to 2006? Well, for starters, there was a lot more faith in breaking news departments. The media were far less partisan at one point than they are now. There were such things as journalistic integrity and investigative reporting. You weren't told what to think. You were instead shown multiple perspectives from those involved and left to decide on your own how you felt about it personally. You could ruminate on it while in the company of others and garner their view on the subject, possibly inspiring your outlook on it as well, and so on. Politicians at one time actually got asked real questions and they had to give real answers, not the platitudes that are offered today, baseless and hollow statements like the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Speaker 15:

How would you like to pay for that today? Well, I'd like to thank the Honourable Wader for his question and his continued interest in this very important topic. As the Wader will know, the method of payment is something that we've been considering carefully for a long time now. I'd ask those sitting opposite who have no method of payment in mind, no method of payment, to consider paying half the bill. So how are you going to pay? Let me just say this there will be no F-POS under a lunch-eye lead.

Speaker 1:

Now imagine for a moment what it would be like if the same government payoff control scheme that was used to manipulate and control the Canadian media was allowed to extend to include social media platforms when, instead of the surveillance of Zuckerberg's room full of unqualified fact checkers watching over your content, it was a government watchdog like CSIS or, worse yet, a progressively aligned government organization intent on subjecting you to a certain line of propaganda or altering your belief set. This is the danger between legislation like Bill C-11. While it is not currently the aim, it is. The line in the sandwich is drawn now that will be repeatedly moved later as they see how much the tech giants will tolerate and what the Canadian people will let them get away with. The problem is that they will never tell you the truth, no matter how much they would have you believe they will. We cannot allow our platforms and social networks to come under the government's thumb and should support Meta and others in their stand against them. It is a precedent we need to avoid if we hope to maintain any shred of our freedoms or entertain the prospect of free thought or even democratic identity.

Speaker 17:

Haha, you fool. You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia. But only slightly less well known is this never go all in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Speaker 1:

Canada's media outlets benefit greatly from the ability of Canadian citizens to actively share the content that outlets provide via their personal social media accounts, drawing attention to articles that are often hidden behind a paywall and would gain little traction without their being shared in the first place. While Canadian media outlets continue to benefit from taxpayer funds, they're reluctant to offer any content to taxpayers without additional expense, making it next to impossible to access Canadian news without their current subscribers. Sharing the articles off-site, where they can be accessed for free by those without the means with which to afford a subscription. To tell social media companies they have to now pay the outlets, even though they have no control over what their users post in terms of content or links outside of their so-called independent fact-checkers, is ludicrous. Only a politician could think otherwise, unless we are going to define the social media providers as publishers, which would mean they are something entirely different than it would seem they are even trying to become.

Speaker 18:

I think about 140 million Americans get their news from Facebook, and when you mentioned the Senator Cornyn, you said you are responsible for your content. So which are you? Are you a tech company? Are you the world's largest publisher? Because I think that goes to a really important question on what form of regulation or government action, if any, we would take.

Speaker 8:

Senator, this is a really big question. I view us as a tech company because the primary thing that we do is build technology and products, but you said you are responsible for your content, which makes kind of a publisher right. Well, I agree that we are responsible for the content, but we don't produce the content. I think that when people ask us if we are a media company or a publisher, my understanding of what the heart of what they are really getting at is do we feel a responsibility for the content on our platform? The answer to that, I think, is clearly yes, but I don't think that that's incompatible with, fundamentally at our core, being a technology company where the main thing that we do is have engineers and build products.

Speaker 1:

While Meta may be pushing Zuckerberg's own narrative and selecting the voices they choose to amplify or label false, the government shouldn't be forcing Meta to bend to their will either. In fact, if free and open discourse is to be heralded, then the government should be rallying with the people against Meta's one-sided actions at that amount to nothing short of censorship, plain and simple. The government isn't upset that Metta is censoring its platform, though. They just want to reserve that job for themselves. Bill C-11 is simply the first major step in that direction. The more they can force the tech giants to bend, the more control they exert over them. Eventually, in time, the government will find a way to get the social media providers to total line, the same way they got the Canadian media outlets to, although the social giants are a long way from requiring subsidization regardless, they'll find a way to get their sticky government fingers in the pie one way or another and then write laws to push the private sector contingent out to allow for their full control. Once that happens, you can rest assured that the changes will be swift and instantly noticeable. It will also be far too late to stop it at that point.

Speaker 19:

Facebook is out of the news game in Australia. The social media giant says it's restricting publishers and users in the country from sharing or viewing news content. Facebook's moves is a response to a proposed news media bargaining law that would force internet companies to pay for news content.

Speaker 1:

This isn't the first time a government has attempted to force their hand with social media providers. In February 2021, meta blocked news to users in Australia after the news media bargaining code was passed, which governs conduct between Australian news businesses and designated digital platforms. As a result, both Meta and Google made separate deals with a series of media companies in Australia to avoid designation by Australia's treasurer, who is tasked to designate and thus force digital platforms like Meta and Google to pay. The Canadian government has refused to budge from their position or bargain in good faith, in the same way as the Australian government was able. By offering the social media providers the appearance of choice, they were able to choose to play along, rather than be forced to do so under the weight of legislation. If it really was about fair compensation, then Canada would be able to act in a similar fashion. This is a power struggle over an exceptionally useful tool that could have far greater repercussions of allowed to fall into the nefarious hands of the government, which would be even worse than under the progressive watch of Mark Zuckerberg as it is now. At least, zuckerberg is only using your information to separate you from your wallet. The government would be able to use that information to separate you from your finances and your freedom.

Speaker 20:

Well, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is calling for more oversight online. Zuckerberg is jumping into the debate around regulating the internet and calling on governments to take a more active role in policing violent content. Laura McQuillan is tracking the story and joins us now. So this is all in an op-ed by Zuckerberg. What does he have to say, Laura?

Speaker 21:

Well, this is at odds with what we've heard from him in the past, john, because Zuckerberg has been resistant to regulation of platforms like Facebook, but now we're seeing him come out and call for rules for the internet, and he wants governments to act. He even wants third parties to help act and to crack down on social media when it's not getting it right itself. Take a look at these four points that he laid out in the Washington Post in this opinion piece. Starting with harmful content, he says that a third party body could help hold companies accountable when they run things like propaganda and hate speech, and more. He says that standards should be set for sites to be held to. Also on protecting elections, which has been a big one for Facebook in the past. He says in terms of political ads, they need help to identify and verify political actors. And privacy and data regulation, which you'll be familiar, with Facebook having so much trouble with this one. They want to see common global regulations that protect users' rights to how that information is used, but they still want companies to be able to use that data to provide services. However, on this point, zuckerberg says those regulations should also come with sanctions, so when companies quote, make mistakes, they'll be held to account. And finally, on the subject of data portability, which is moving your data between apps or devices or into the cloud, he says there need to be clear rules about who is protecting that data, whether it's Facebook or whether it's someone else. This from Mark Zuckerberg. He says that Facebook could be doing more, but it can't do it alone and governments need to help out. And we're hearing governments say well, we're prepared to step up, one of those being Australia. It wants this on the agenda at the G20 meeting in June. It wants governments to be talking together about how they can regulate social media, hold it accountable, make it more transparent, but it's yet to be added to that agenda. We'll be watching to see if there's more enthusiasm from other countries as well.

Speaker 20:

But Australia really has done even more than that in that space. Haven't they Tell us a little more about it?

Speaker 21:

That's right. Now they're promising to come after executives like Mark Zuckerberg when they fail to take violent content off their platforms. Think, for example, of the Christchurch Mosque attacks and that video that the shooter live streamed on Facebook. Well, many platforms had difficulty taking that down, and that's exactly what Australia wants to target. Its government is promising new legislation with two very hefty penalties. One of those would be potential jail time of up to three years for executives of their social media companies, whether they're in Australia, whether they're overseas and come into the country. They could be put behind bars. Also fines these could be huge up to 10% of a company's global annual turnover Facebook's turnover last year topping $50 billion. So 10% of that well, that would be a big hit to Facebook's bottom line. All of this will be left to a jury to decide if the company acted fast enough to take that content down. So it will be somewhat subjective one to watch, for sure, but this is the first country in the world talking about doing something like this. We are hearing others talking about acting, New Zealand included, after, of course, that attack took place there Canada talking about it too, so perhaps we will see enough enthusiasm to get that on the agenda at the G20 and to make something of it going forward.

Speaker 1:

This is not only possible, but probable and highly likely. Many are in full support of seizing social media platforms from their creators for the purpose of government control. According to ex-Facebook Australia boss, steven Schiehler, it's time for radical action. It's time to break up the tech giants.

Speaker 22:

I've come around to the view that the scale, size and influence of these platforms, particularly on our minds, our brains and all the things we do as citizens, as consumers, are just so powerful that leaving them in the hands of a few very closely controlled companies like Facebook is the recipe for disaster, schiehler told BBC's Radio Forrest Today program, which means he believes that only government oversight and limitation is the answer to what he sees as the looming crisis of private control.

Speaker 1:

The principle of taxing tech companies to subsidize newspapers set to further spread as the digital age continues to eclipse the printed, physical word. The problem is, this will probably benefit the major newspaper businesses rather than struggling regional titles, doing nothing to chip away at the dominance of Facebook and Google in online advertising or given edge to the Canadian companies. It was meant to benefit.

Speaker 3:

About 5%. If they search CBC news, for example, they get a message like this oh really, this is the Montreal Gazette. They're hiding the news from us, so it looks something like this I was seeing information before, but now you cannot access the information.

Speaker 11:

If that happened to you. What would you feel? I would be definitely upset. It's not free speech, it's not letting you see what the news wants to project, and then you also wouldn't get the news and everybody else would be in the loop and you wouldn't be. How did you feel about that?

Speaker 6:

That was the comment, god, because at first it was so easy to get some information, but now it's really crazy.

Speaker 7:

I'm just wondering how that's allowed, because a lot of people use Instagram as their main source of anything, whether it's not just news or whatever, and a lot of people repost posts to get the word out. So I think not being able to access that is very concerning.

Speaker 4:

Especially with our generation. Nobody watches the news on TV anymore, Would you say you use Instagram a lot to get your news.

Speaker 11:

Yes, how else would you get your news?

Speaker 4:

Probably from other people's Instagrams, I mean, I know that I could go onto Platform's website, but I don't know if I actually would in reality.

Speaker 1:

It's not just the Canadian people who are facing the negative consequences of the government's actions either. The US government under Joe Biden has been working on a global flat tax for American tech companies that operate on a multinational level to avoid possible operational deficits should multiple countries adopt digital services taxes, preventing large companies from avoiding their tax obligations and other jurisdictions. The initiative was designed to replace digital services taxes with a plan to distribute corporate tax revenue from the world's biggest companies to countries in which they sell goods and services. In July of this year, 130 other countries involved in negotiations agreed to hold back on implementing digital services taxes until 2025 to allow for more time to come to a consensus. By implementing a digital services tax prior, canada undermines the negotiation process and it could prove counterproductive if the US retaliates by imposing tariffs on Canadian goods. A trade war would cost Canadians far more money than the digital services tax would generate. Furthermore, when the free trade agreement is due for review, it would be very difficult to get an extension of the current agreement if Canada has a digital services tax in place. The US has already stated this to be the case. In fact, with all this opposition to Bill C-11, you'd think the Liberals would consider making some concession in order to avoid some of the fallout. Instead, they've doubled down, blaming absolutely everyone but themselves for their failing grades, like a recently-collared high school student with a penchant for truancy and slacking off, taking no responsibility or accepting any blame whatsoever for the results of their poor choices. It's little wonder, given the level of an experience that exists throughout the Liberal Party, that they act so impetuous and immature.

Speaker 5:

I have decided to run for Congress. Congress, no, I'm serious. I mean not the big Congress, of course, the little one, the little one.

Speaker 8:

The little one.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, actually, I don't even know if it's the Congress, it might be the state Senate, I can't remember. Anyway, I'm super excited because we are so lucky and we have so, so, so much, and I feel like we need to give something back. So I've decided I'm going to run for Congress or state Senate or whatever, and my main platform is going to be the environment. State Senate Environment like the whole environment, yeah. I believe in all environments and I'm going to say it.

Speaker 1:

Despite whatever explanations the government may attempt to provide to garner acceptance for their position, in this case they are not to be believed. Their new legislation will not benefit Canadian media outlets the way they say. We've already seen how detrimental it is in that regard. It will not be of general benefit to Canadians either. The results in that aspect have also been well documented. At this point, what it will be is good for the government A means by which for the government to profit, while allowing them to slowly achieve what they've been dreaming of acquiring for quite some time Complete control and regulation of all social media platforms and, with it, further control of the population through more effective propaganda distribution and information suppression. If you value free thought and freedom, you won't support the government in this power grab, regardless how much you may dislike Mark Zuckerberg and the company. In spite of the independent fact checkers and progressive leaning ideologies extolled from the executive branch at Metta, there's still a certain level of protection offered from the government in having social media providers under private control. Should the government take control instead, social media will become yet another tool in their arsenal against you. Just another way to increase public ennui and overall contemporary anxiety, to make it easier to manipulate you into doing as they wish. We'd be far better off to take our chances with Zuckerberg. At least that's what This Canadian Thinks. I'd like to take this moment to thank you for listening to This Canadian Thinks. We appreciate your support and look forward to creating more episodes for your listening pleasure. If you're able, please subscribe. Your support helps us afford the time to make these episodes, in addition to helping us reach a wider audience. If you're listening on a platform, please hit the follow button and be sure to hit the subscription and notification bell. If you're watching on YouTube, and tell your friends and neighbors about us too. If you have any topics you'd like This Canadian Thinks to cover or ideas for guests that might be interested in appearing in future episodes, be sure to let us know. We are also actively seeking sponsors and advertisers who might be a good fit with our program. If you'd like to partner with us, we'd be happy to hear from you as well. Thanks so much, once again, for listening to this podcast. We hope you'll be back for many more episodes to come. Until next time, keep your mind open and don't forget to think. www. trampledundertyranny. com.

Social Media's Impact on Privacy
Fact Checking and COVID-19 Policies
Government Control of Social Media
Facebook's Impact on Canadian Democracy
Regulating Social Media Platforms

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