Facebook has engaged a think tank funded by weapons manufacturers, branches of the US military and Middle-Eastern monarchies to safeguard the democratic process. It’s akin to hiring arsonists to run the fire brigade.
If Facebook truly wanted to “protect democracy and elections worldwide,” it would build a broad coalition of experts and activists from a wide and disparate range of the countries it serves. Instead, the American social media giant has outsourced the task to NATO’s propaganda wing.
For the uninitiated, the Atlantic Council serves as the American-led alliance’s chief advocacy group. And its methods are rather simple: it grants stipends and faux academic titles to various activists that align with NATO’s agenda. Thus, lobbyists become “fellows” and “experts,”while the enterprise constructs a neutral sheen, which is rarely (if ever) challenged by Western media outlets – often reliant on its employees for easy comment and free op-eds.
While that has always been ethically questionable, Facebook’s latest move, given its effective monopoly position, is far more sinister. Because it is now tied to a “think tank” which has proposed terrorist attacks in Russia and has demanded Russian-funded news outlets be forced to register as “foreign agents” in the United States.
Make no mistake: this is a dream scenario for NATO and those who depend on it for their livelihoods and status. Because the Atlantic Council is now perfectly positioned to be the tail wagging the Facebook dog in the information space.
On Thursday, the social network announced how it was “excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems.” It then added that “experts” from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRL) will liaise closely with Facebook’s “security, policy and product teams” to offer “real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world.”
Now, this sort of talk would be fine if Facebook had assembled a diverse group, comprised of stakeholders from a wide range of democracies.