What should we do about Facebook? I have a plan*

(*Thanks, Elizabeth Warren, for this catch phrase.)

Boy, is everyone going crazy over Facebook!

It is evil, it has to be censored. It allows politicians to sell ads with ugly and discredited smears. It was and will be again the Chosen Vehicle for alien forces attacking our elections by feeding us fake stories and conspiracy theories — a lot of them about child pornography. (I’ve made it as a Russian trolling tell. A rumor is it’s Putinesque projection.)

Facebook facilitates kompromat, trolling, bots, chatbots, deepfakes and whatevers. Facebook gives criminals, politicians, political surrogates, autocrats and liars open access to us, to our minds.

Mark Zuckerberg thinks fakery is OK in political ads and he will not restrict it.

Facebook has just created Facebook News, headed up by a woman who avidly supports charter schools and is a good friend of Betsy DeVos.

We are under attack. Again. No question.

So how do we defend ourselves?

We don’t have to.

Because — I fear I might startle you, this is so radical…

We can block ads, political or commercial, on Facebook and if an ad does sneak through our settings onto our pages, we are not forced to believe it or buy it!!!!!

Thing is, I was pretty much immune to the 2016 propaganda of all kinds. I remember seeing fakery only once, just after the election, with that utterly crazy business about that evil sex ring run out of the (non-existent) basement of a Washington, DC pizza place.

What I saw were political statements, news articles about the coming election and the campaigns — some of which did annoy me — and tweets.

The fakes were obvious fakes, the facts were persuasive facts. If I questioned anything I read, I checked it, confirmed it with reputable sources.

Must say, I am not easy with the demand public figures are making that We The People desperately need all these expressions and opinions on social media be censored — kept from our eyes and delicate brains.

It’s condescending and, worse, its patriarchal. It’s a demeaning pat on the head of us little kids who aren’t smart enough to know fact from fake by ourselves.

Hey. I’m smart enough. And so are you. And I do not appreciate everybody yelling that some large entity — a government agency, Mark Zuckerberg — should be curating what we might accidentally see because…what? We’ll be brainwashed?

Phooey. You can only brainwash people who are begging to be brainwashed. And you can’t save people who want to be brainwashed from being brainwashed.

So, propagandists, Russian trolls, et al: spew it out. Vent, vilely. Fill cyberspace and the internet with crapola.

I, for one, will barely notice and if I accidentally notice, I certainly will not and cannot be influenced by you. And I have enough respect for my fellow citizens to believe they won’t be fooled, either.

It comes down to wise words via Kara Swisher, who is a Times op contributor because of her expertise as a business technology specialist and founder and editor of Recode. Here’s what she said (my bolding) in a December 2018 Times column:

For now, it’s not clear what we can do, except take control of our own individual news consumption. Back in July, in fact, [Renée] DiResta, [a disinformation expert and director of research at New Knowledge], advised consumer restraint as the first line of defense, especially when encountering information that any passably intelligent person could guess might have been placed by a group seeking to manufacture discord.

“They’re preying on your confirmation bias,” she said. “When content is being pushed to you, that’s something that you want to see. So, take the extra second to do the fact-check, even if it confirms your worst impulses about something you absolutely hate — before you hit the retweet button, before you hit the share button, just take the extra second.”

They’re right. It only takes a couple of seconds to fact check.

You don’t buy every product you see in a TV commercial. No reason to buy everything you read in social media, either.

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