Facebook a PR Firm? What about a Silicon Valley Cash Rich Intelligence Agency?

September 1, 2020

DarkCyber noted “Facebook, The PR Firm.” The main idea seems to be:

I [Can Duruk maybe?] saw on Twitter a leak from Facebook where the comms people were pleading to their coworkers to stop leaking to the press. The comms folks, in a weird form of irony, were so inundated with their moderation work that they had to ask people whose main task is to create more moderation work for the poorly paid and mentally traumatized people to please creating less work for them.

That statement combines the best of Escher and Kafka.

The write up notes:

I read Facebook less as a tech company, but instead a communications one. Not a telecom communications, but more like a PR / marketing consultancy. There’s nothing original about Facebook. It’s a company that hires people to build others’ ideas, and, more often than not, it does that better and faster than them too. And when it can’t do that, it just buys them outright. There is a lot of building, but the ideas are outsourced. But what Facebook is really good at is actually doing all this while fighting what seems to be a never-ending, at least since 2016 or so, PR battle while not giving an inch.

Is the entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg a reincarnation of Ivy Lee, a metempsychosis in the realm of online social media?

And the final line of the write up reminds the reader:

This, after all, is a company that once thought comparing itself to a chair was a good idea.

DarkCyber thinks the write up makes some helpful points. However, several observations emerged from our morning Zoom “meeting” among the team members who had the energy to click a mouse button:

  1. Facebook has internalized the mechanisms used by some intelligence agencies and specialized services firms; for example, the dalliance in and out of court with NSO Group
  2. Facebook can perform what can be called “beam forming.” The idea is to take digital bits, focus them on a topic or issue, and then aim the beam of content at individuals and groups. The beam works like a wood carver’s oblique knife. The “targets” are shaped as needed.
  3. The company can exert threats in order to apply pressure to entities with a perceived intention of doing Facebook hard; for example, the threats made to Australia if the social media giant has to pay for news.

To sum up, DarkCyber believes that Facebook has more in common with an intelligence operation than a PR firm. I mean public relations. Really? Does Facebook care about relating to the public? Money, clicks, users, tracking, and data for sure. But public relations?

Stephen E Arnold, September 1, 2020


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