Collusion or not, social media has responsiblity

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Controversy is far from over on the Mueller Report, despite its conclusion that the Trump campaign didn’t coordinate with Russian interests.

That doesn’t mean foreign interests didn’t do, or won’t continue to do, everything they can to disrupt the American system that helped break up the old Soviet Union and influence the rest of the world.

Facebook and subsidiary Instagram are acknowledging as much, removing 2,632 pages, groups and accounts engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in one campaign connected to Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo.

The people behind the campaign coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, according to Facebook’s cybersecurity chief.

Elsewhere, Facebook took down 513 pages, related to Iran, representing themselves as locals with made-up media entities, fake accounts and impersonating real political groups and media organizations.

Some 1,907 Facebook pages, groups and accounts were taken down for posting spam linked to Russia, 212 for Macedonia and Kosovo, some on topics such as astrology, celebrities and beauty tips, but others pretending to represent political movements in Australia and the U.S. on religious and political topics like nationalism and Islam.

While it’s good Facebooks is finally admitting it has a responsibility to prevent the spread of false information, that doesn’t let the rest of us, quick to hit the “share” button, off the hook.

As a writer for the Civic Nebraska Writers Group, Andy Long of McCook offered some good advice in his “A devotional for democracy,” (http://bit.ly/2V2lspk) reprinted here a week ago.

Among his advice: be informed and listen to both sides of any issue, be prepared with verifiable facts, verify the truthfulness of any information before posting or emailing it on; respect others regardless of their opinion, and investigate and support candidates with character early in the campaign.

Facebook’s actions are a good start, but users of social media must become sophisticated enough to avoid being manipulated by foreign interests which mean to do us harm.

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