Tuesday, August 25, 2020

An Easy Fix for the Facebook Problem - Replace it with a Permanent Thai Version

Controlling information space is as important to a nation as protecting its physical shores and borders. And a nation with its own social media platforms creates skills, employment, and profits that stay inside those borders. 

August 26, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - The Thai government has found itself in a row with US-based tech giant Facebook. 

While Facebook deletes thousands of accounts in a politically-motivated purge on the behest of the US and NATO citing "fake news" and "coordinated inauthentic behavior," it is attempting to sidestep Thai laws and protect the content of US-backed agitators attempting to divide and destabilize Thailand. 

The Nation in its article, "Prayut battles Facebook over banned Royalist Marketplace group," describes attempts by the Thai government to remove a page operated by a close ally of fugitive billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra - who while in power had killed nearly 3,000 people and since fleeing the country has regularly resorted to terrorism in a bid to return to power. 

Just as Facebook has done elsewhere - when content favors Western foreign policy - no matter how criminal or abusive - it is granted impunity by the US-based tech giant. When the content opposes Western foreign policy - even if it has not violated any laws or even Facebook's own terms of service - excuses are made for immediate and sweeping censorship. 

READ MORE: The Complete Guide: US Government Role in Thailand's "Student Protests"

It is a double standard that nations like Thailand have tolerated for too long. 

Facebook isn't "Social Media," It is Information Warfare  

The London Guardian revealed in an article, "Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker: site made to exploit human 'vulnerability'," that social media giants exploit a vulnerability in human psychology to manipulate its users.

The article explained (emphasis added):

[Parker] explained that when Facebook was being developed the objective was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content.
“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
The article notes that the exploitation of dopamine is also used by game designers including those who create automated gambling machines for casinos. 

Facebook has further developed the process of manipulating its users through experiments carried out to see if online behavior could be manipulated. 

Articles like the BBC's "Facebook emotion experiment sparks criticism," would admit (emphasis added): 
Facebook is facing criticism after it emerged it had conducted a psychology experiment on nearly 700,000 users without their knowledge.

The test saw Facebook "manipulate" news feeds to control which emotional expressions the users were exposed to.

The research was done in collaboration with two US universities to gauge if "exposure to emotions led people to change their own posting behaviours".
It is also no secret that Facebook has used its ability to mass manipulate the public to advance regime change on behalf of the US government.
Articles like the New York Times' "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," admit to the role the US government played in stirring up unrest in the Arab World in 2011 - leading to two devastating wars and one government after another being toppled. 

It would also note the role tech giants like Facebook played, stating (emphasis added): 
Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.
Of course this wasn't done to "promote democracy" as the New York Times suggests. It served merely as cover for what eventually turned into an open and violent campaign of US-led regime change wars destroying Libya entirely and nearly destroying Syria. 
The US-engineered "Arab Spring" also left Yemen mired in an unending
war the UN itself has called "the world's worst humanitarian crisis."

Clearly - of all the things that materialized in the wake of the US-engineered "Arab Spring," "democracy" wasn't one of them. 

Facebook and Google - along with Twitter - are eager partners in advancing US foreign policy objectives. They admittedly have the tools needed to hook users in a "social-validation feedback loop" - as one of Facebook's own founders has called it - and to manipulate precisely what sort of activity will provide that feedback.

This is admitted by the Western media itself - not the West's competitors or adversaries.

For Thailand - Facebook, Twitter, and Google have carried out both a massive purge erasing critical voices pointing out many of these facts or a more subtle shadow banning - granting a monopoly to individuals, organizations, and automated online tools designed to create the illusion of massive online support to suck attention-seeking youths into Thailand's anti-government protests.

This is the same process that led the eventual destruction of multiple nations in North Africa and the Middle East - meaning the threat foreign social media platforms used as political and even literal weapons cannot be underestimated and should be treated as a national security threat. 

Opportunities to Create Employment, Profits, and Grow Thailand's Tech Sector 

Other nations have long ago realized the threat of foreign tech giants monopolizing their information space.

Nations like Russia have networks like VK and search engines like Yandex creating well-established and profitable alternatives for Facebook and Google. 

Not only do they grant Russia the ability to decide for itself how its own information space is managed and used, the profits made by VK and Yandex stay in Russia rather than being siphoned off to Silicon Valley or Wall Street. 

Companies like Yandex have created talent pools that have had a positive impact on other areas of innovation from self-driving cars to artificial intelligence. 

China too has noticed the threat of foreign tech giants "conquering" its information space. It has its own search engines - like Baidu - and social media platforms - like Weibo - as well as their own messenger applications.

Just as in Russia, the profits these platforms make stay in China. So do decisions about how China's information space is managed and used. 

And like Russia, Chinese tech companies like Baidu play a leading role in many other areas of innovation including artificial intelligence benefiting the entire Chinese economy and the people who depend on it. 

And it isn't just emerging global powers like Russia and China doing this. Vietnam has made the first few steps toward reclaiming its information space from US-based tech giants.

Reuters in a 2019 article, "Facebook-style app launches in Vietnam amid tightening internet rules," reported (emphasis added):
A Facebook-style social network was launched in Vietnam on Tuesday, following calls by the Communist-ruled government for domestic tech companies to create alternatives to U.S. tech giants Facebook and Google. 

Gapo, a mobile app that lets users create personal profiles and share posts to a Facebook style “news feed”, has received 500 billion dong ($21.55 million) in funding from tech corporation G-Group, its chief executive, Ha Trung Kien, said.
While the article condemned Vietnam, claiming the move was meant to suppress "activists and dissidents," Reuters never mentions that - just as in Thailand - the vast majority of the opposition in Vietnam is funded by the US government - making it perfectly clear that Vietnam is reacting to a foreign threat to its national security - not "crushing" legitimate activism or dissent at home.

Exporting "Arms" to Defend Against Information Warfare 

For Thailand - or any nation for that matter - building these sort of platforms from the ground up will be difficult and time consuming. But creating an arrangement with nations like Russia or China - or both - to "export" social media and search infrastructure to protect Thailand's information space the same way both nations export weapons to help another nation protect its own physical space - could accelerate the process. 

Nations exporting this technology would benefit by adding to its exports portfolio and building closer ties with nations importing it, and those nations like Thailand importing it would obviously benefit by being able to finally "fix" the Facebook problem as well as defend against other invasive, meddling US-based tech giants who act as aggressively and as abusively in another's information space as America's military does over the physical borders of targeted sovereign nations around the world.