It’s never a bad idea to try to have Facebook’s actual advertising business model questioned and explained, wherever in the world its tentacles might currently reach – but when the likes of UK’s Guardian newspaper say that Europe should join in “an advertising boycott of Facebook in the US” – trust and believe, meaningful protection of user rights is not on this news outlet’s agenda.
This Guardian article has little to do with protecting or advancing regular users’ rights online, or even informing or educating them about how exactly the ad-tech industry works with tech giants, to squeeze every last drop of blood from their personal data that they wittingly or unwittingly share with these platforms – who then proceed to unscrupulously sell access to it to (mostly, but not exclusively) advertising third-parties, for gazillions of dollars.
The Guardian is not explaining to its readers how this business ended up making Facebook, and other former tiny tech startups into the tech behemoths we know today – the ones who are now apparently so powerful they need to be contained from the highest places and “steered in the right direction,” politically and ideologically.
So instead of delving deep into what’s actually wrong with Facebook’s “advertising” – we just get a condescending variation of a narrative straight out of the US campaign politics’ fever dream.
“A growing number of companies have halted advertising on Facebook after criticism that the platform was not doing enough to counter hate speech on its sites,” says the website.
In other words, it’s all skin-deep politicking – but it’s also somehow supposed to resonate in Europe? But why do we care if corporations smaller than Facebook decide against advertising on it (most of them in ridiculous, “30-day” grandstanding)?
The Guardian tried to get a good quote in support of why – but it kind of failed.
Said UK-based Center for Countering Digital Hate non-profit CEO Imran Ahmed:
“Most of the polling shows that in Europe there is an even stronger desire for Facebook to be held to account” – so far, so good – but then he adds: “… for the hate speech and misinformation that spreads on its platform.”
And while admitting that in the US the issue with Facebook is basically politics (and Europeans can’t really care about it lest they’re accused of election interference) – there’s no source quoted proving that there’s “an even stronger desire in Europe” for Facebook to be held to account for “hate speech and misinformation,” of all things.
And Europeans are supposed to care about this more than about their personal data being abused, and their every move tracked on the internet?
(This is historically not true – not even at the EU level.)