Cool, So Facebook Reckons Photoshopped Tweets Are A-Ok

Disappointed, but not surprised.

Facebook hasn’t had a great year this year. Everyone’s favourite definitely-not-a-lizard-man, Mark Zuckerberg, got dragged to hell and back by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and then the entire globe gave them a pretty serious side-eye after Twitter banned political advertising and Facebook refused to. And those incidents were just in the last month.

Hell, Facebook can’t even seem to get sending flowers right this year.

It’s not that hard.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised then, that Facebook has decided that it’s totally fine with photoshopped Tweets designed to whip up political anger floating around on their website.

Some fake tweets had been made up to look like Sally McManus, leader of the The Australian Council of Trade Unions, had said that she thought an inheritance tax was a great idea. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t think that.

Another one had been made to look like it was from Bill Shorten, saying that “immigration of people from the Middle East is the future Australia needs”. Another spoiler alert: he never tweeted that.

The tweets were posted on two Facebook pages: Respect Australia Rally – National and I’ll Stand by Tony Abbott. The sorts of pages, as you can probably imagine, who would kick off in a major way if they thought that Bill Shorten had tweeted about immigration from the Middle East.

When Sally McManus contacted Facebook, and pointed out that this was absolutely the most basic definition of fake news, they basically shrugged their shoulders.

Sorry, can’t help you.

One of Facebook’s client support analysts got back to Sally, and said that while “we understand that the content was upsetting and we’re sorry you had to experience this” that it “doesn’t violate our community guidelines”.

Facebook have said before that they just don’t want to be involved if they don’t have to – actually they said that they don’t want to “referee political debates” of any kind. When you’re fine with photoshopped tweets and you’ve been accused of swinging a whole election though, I’m going to say that you’re probably way past the point of refereeing.

Facebook's Play At 'Spreading Festive Cheer' Has Backfired With Biosecurity Laws

Is sending politicians flowers ever a good idea though?

There are several reactions that people can have when receiving a bunch of flowers. Calling the cops isn’t usually one of them, but that’s where Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie went when he got a floral arrangement from Facebook sent to his office from Sydney.

In an interview, Wilkie said that the flowers “immediately sparked concerns about implications for the Tasmanian environment and the likelihood of it being a serious breach of Tasmania’s tough but entirely warranted biosecurity laws.”

“My office immediately contacted Biosecurity Tasmania who were very concerned that the arrangement had not been quarantine cleared and likely contained live seeds and the possibility of serious pests and diseases.”

According to Facebook, they sent all the Tasmanian federal MPs and Senators a bunch of flowers to “to spread some festive cheer.” A classic example of good intentions, terrible execution.

You hear that, Facebook? No illegal flowers needed.

The website for Tassie’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (aka the people in charge of what gets in and out of the state) says that they have some of the world’s toughest biosecurity requirements, so overall Zuckerberg (well, his underlings, but I like to think it was him) really did a great job of picking where to send their flowers.

People try and ship all sorts of things around the country without thinking about what will actually happen when their gift arrives.

There was that time that a South Australia tourism company decided to send a bunch of live goldfish to media organisations to promote themselves. Not only was this a terrible idea and a biosecurity nightmare, but when the fish got to their destinations they were… not… alive….

There was a similar situation when a PR company sent live butterflies to journalists. The exact same thing happened. Asia O’Hara should have learned from these people’s mistakes, but I digress.

This moment could have been avoided
(Credit: VH1)

And lest we forget, the most spectacular biosecurity breach in modern history: that time Johnny Depp and Amber Heard got a massive telling off from Barnaby Joyce for bringing their dogs into the country. Facebook sending flowers is amusing, but probably won’t end with Barnaby Joyce threatening to kill anything.

I live in hope that one day soon we’ll see Zuckerberg forced to film a video like this:

Does Facebook Really Have To Be A Necessary Evil In Our Lives?

It might be necessary, but does it have to be evil?

I spent a lot of my time last night watching the video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez absolutely skewering Facebook founder Mark “Definitely A Human And Not A Lizard Man” Zuckerberg. It was a fantastic night, in case you were wondering.

While it’s great fun to watch one of the richest and most powerful men in the world blurt out such profound gems as “I think lying is bad”, and laugh about how bad his weird Caesar inspired haircut is, we should probably look at the bigger picture.

Zuckerberg was facing congress to defend Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, Libra. He called the current method we have of paying for stuff “outdated,” and used that as a reason to tell everyone how much we need Libra. Now, I know sweet f-all about how cryptocurrency works, and maybe my debit card isn’t as cool as currency that zooms around the internet, but my debit card is the one getting me groceries so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But I digress. 

Once Zuckerberg had finished implying that physical money is stupid, questioning turned to some of the other business that Facebook has been involved with. He was asked about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, why Facebook won’t fact check political ads themselves, and why some of the fact checkers they do have are tied to white supremacists

I don’t need to tell you that Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool. The bottom line is that for such a powerful company, they seem to get away with a lot of shady stuff with a slap on the wrist. We all know what they’re up to, but we’re still using their website.

I’ve heard this explained away over and over again by people saying that Facebook is just a “necessary evil”. 

Let’s address the “necessary” part of that phrase first. Sure, we could all delete Facebook and it would probably solve these problems, but it would also get rid of the benefits we get from social media. Like it or not, we do get a sense of connection from Facebook. We keep in touch with friends and family who live far away, and join all sorts of groups full of people with similar interests. I’m in a Facebook support group for people with dermatillomania, and it makes me realise I’m not alone or nuts. 

Also, I’ve watched bosses in previous jobs search the names of people who handed us a resume, and get suspicious if they can’t find an account. So I’m going to go with Facebook being a necessity in 2019. Sue me.

It doesn’t have to be evil, though. 

Saying that Facebook is stuck in its ways and can’t be changed is just not true. Mark Zuckerberg created it originally as a way to rank the attractiveness of women on his college campus, so it’s not like the site hasn’t changed at all since the beginning. It’s gone from being all sorts of creepy and gross on a small scale, to being all sorts of terrifying on a massive scale.

It’s absolutely possible for Facebook to give white supremacist-tied organisations the boot, and to fact check political ads that run on their platform. They’re probably going to harvest our data until the end of time, but they don’t have to work with companies like Cambridge Analytica who are going to do dodgy things with it. 

Just because Facebook is ridiculously massive doesn’t mean we have to accept their behaviour and move on. Mark Zuckerberg should make better choices. 

Oh, and do more research next time you come up against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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