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Friday, 03 May 2019 11:46

Zuckerberg will say anything to prevent Facebook losing money

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Mark Zuckerberg will say anything to distract people and keep them from focusing on what's wrong with Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg will say anything to distract people and keep them from focusing on what's wrong with Facebook. Courtesy YouTube

Whenever Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is faced with the prospect of losing money, he does something to distract people. This time, facing what could be a fine of as much as US$5 billion for privacy violations, Zuckerberg is flailing left and right and trying to spin things as best as possible.

In this exercise, he is aided no end by docile American reporters who actually, wait for it, seem to take his utterances seriously. Zuckerberg's latest stunt has been to announce that he will ban three people from the social media site, people who are considered right-wing.

Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos fit into that bracket. But how does Louis Farrakhan figure in that list?

It really doesn't matter. All that matters is that the American media — and no other media matter to Zuckerberg — have that blanket headline up there: "Facebook bans right-wingers." What a courageous act!

How can Facebook make money without slurping up personal data? Its entire business model is built around that one element.

Yet when Zuckerberg starts talking about privacy, how many journalists have called him on it?

Labor MP Ed Husic had Zuckerberg's methods down pat when he said, during an interview on Thursday, "The problem with Facebook is there is a quite standard approach to the way that they deal with issues that have been levelled at them.

"First, they'll deny, then they'll say, yes, we acknowledge there is an issue and we have to deal with it, and then they don't do anything and we go back to square one.

"We have seen time and again that Facebook has not been willing to genuinely respond to concerns about the way they operate."

The word "genuine" should never be used in the same sentence as Facebook; everything the company does is fake and only geared towards milking data from its users — who, by the way, cannot blame the platform for exploiting them when they have signed up willingly — and hawking it here, there and everywhere, with the only condition being that it generates more moolah.

Australia has a chance to put the upstart Zuckerberg in his place, when it issues the final report from its digital platforms inquiry. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission czar Rod Sims has an excellent opportunity to cut this company down to size and show it that it cannot ride roughshod over everybody.

Whether that will happen or not, or whether the Australian Government will be bulldozed by the US Government into just giving Zuckerberg a gentle slap on the wrist, remains to be seen.

But given what has happened in the past, my money is on Sims rolling over and allowing Zuckerberg to tickle his tummy.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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