Even if Facebook takes action against falsehoods in non-western countries, says Ashraf Zeitoon, a major company in the Middle East and North Africa, it is often small, and late. For example, they point a few thousand false stories that Facebook recently shut down in the Middle East. “I believe there are hundreds of thousands of false accounts,” he says. “So whatever they do here is good.”
When Facebook removes such networks, says Zeitoon, it is often due to the hard work of dedicated and dedicated staff, not because the company decided to devote time and resources. He says: “If they say they have no expertise or experience with the staff, then there is no problem. “He has the best brain in the world. But what these guys put first is the most important thing in the West. Spreading lies in Jordan is not important on Facebook.”
The danger is especially great in lands where democracy has already been established. When people do not trust cultural markets, they tend to get more of their stories from their peers. Such personal-to-person communication — Mark Zuckerberg calls it “meaningful communication” – seems plausible. That is why it is such an excellent tool for disseminating disinformation. Governments have become skilled at using Facebook to launch a campaign to spread false news and fake accounts, fake news, and what Zeitoon calls a “massive army.”
The best way to expose the atrocities is to allow journalists in these markets to view their own papers. I am the editor of a Beirut-based self-help group The Public Source. (I have lived in Beirut for more than a decade, and I have been writing articles in the Middle East since 2003.) In Lebanon there are only a handful of independent media, and we are one of them. We do not receive funding from the government or political parties or foreign governments. (Today, the group includes Facebook, which is increasingly selling media in the Middle East and all around the world.) We made it a point to ask for something that would make you feel good and we did not want to hurt you.
Facebook has a lot of power in Lebanon, where mobile phones are some of the most popular in the region. Many Lebanese people have families living abroad, among other things to help pay for such an exorbitant price. That is why almost everyone relies on Facebook and WhatsApp, which have Facebook, to connect with friends and loved ones. WhatsApp is so important in everyday life in Lebanon that when the government tried to impose a $ 6-a-month tax on mobile phones, such as WhatsApp, in October 2019, it sparked a series of well-known protests – the so-called “WhatsApp Revolution” and Western, but popular Lebanon as the October Change or the October 17 Change – which has continued, in other words, to this day.
The operation of Facebook in Lebanon is not unique. The company Free Basics app, first released in 65 countries, took advantage of poverty and the internet to shut people down in the southern hemisphere. Some countries, such as India and Egypt, eventually released the plug. But by the end of last year, Toussaint Nothias of Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab found that Free Basics still exists. 28 countries on the African continent alone; Facebook has started the same program, called Discover, in several countries, including Peru, Chile, Thailand, the Philippines, and Iraq.
The power that Facebook has in countries like Lebanon is why my colleagues and I at The Public Source believe it is important that independent media around the world – not Western European or English journalists – be allowed to participate in Facebook Papers. . Foreigners, no matter how talented, always miss out on the issues that local people can live in in many ways. This is especially so in lands and territories where foreign language is prevalent and knowledge of local and regional politics is of paramount importance.