back to article Facebook's CEO on his latest almighty Zuck-up: OK, we did try to smear critics, but I was too out-of-the-loop to know

Facebook on Thursday (again) reiterated its commitment to fighting misinformation, following a report that the data gathering biz hired a public relations firm, Definers Public Affairs, to promote content that undermines company critics. After announcing that it has ended its relationship with the consulting shop, Facebook - …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      You are far too kind!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And yet, people still smoke.

      Millions of people just don't care.

  2. elDog

    Starting to sound like a politician.

    Weasel words.

    Must have made enough billions to not worry about the truth anymore.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Starting to sound like a politician.

      There's little evidence that Zuckerberg has ever worried about the truth. The stories from the founding of Facebook in his college days all suggest the opposite.

      And as the saying goes, the fish rots from the head downwards.

      Hence if he's a loathsome greedy scumbag, then that's the kind of company he'll found and continue to run.

      However bad you may think Google are, I'd say sometimes very bad, they can be grateful for the existence of Facebook. It makes them look pretty good in comparison.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >> "There's no perfect solution here," he said. "These really aren't problems you ever fully fix."

    If they can't fix it they should be shut down.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      It will have to be nuked from space to be sure. Destroy FB and something else will take it's place.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Destroy FB and something else will take it's place

        "Destroy FB and something else will take it's place"

        sadly, won't be THIS (I looked at it and was not impressed)

        I think it's because the reason for NOT wanting to be on Fa[e]cebook has nothing to do with its censorship, apparent "clique-ishness" and 'fake news'. It's just the whole 'social media' thing with the tracking and the targeted ads and being exploited as a revenue source...


      2. fred base

        It doesn't matter whether anyone loves or loathes FB - it's only a symptom of the problem, not a root cause.

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Can you fix being an asshole online? If so, you're a better man than I.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Spot on. Facebook is the worst offender but all of the big platforms are deploying arguments along the lines of "we've built this enormous thing, which is so big it can't possibly be properly policed so we'll have to allow bad stuff to happen (and please don't ask how much money we make from the bad stuff)".

      I'd like to see regulators follow the money, back to advertising (which I work in, so a/c). If your adverts appear on something, you're classed as financing it. Piracy, terrorism, whatever, if it's got an ad on it then the advertiser feels the heat from that. We'd suddenly see a huge move from FB, Google etc. towards human-monitored whitelisting rather than pretending AI can effectively police content on the web. The long tail of illegal and questionable content wouldn't disappear but it would be much more difficult to make money from and so disappear back into niches, rather than being pushed to the front by big platforms' recommendation engines.

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: If they can't fix it they should be shut down

      Well, yes, and no.

      Let me be clear : I hate FaceBook.

      That said, I do remember UseNet as a rather motely collection of trolls. Slashdot is still online and oh my God is it full of shit. It is nothing new, it's in human nature.

      So, objectively speaking, The Zuck is (yech) right. This is not a problem that has an easy solution. Certainly not a technical one.

      The only proper solution is constant vigilance. That costs money and requires long-term focus. If The Zuck is honestly committed to this long-term effort, then I don't think we can ask for more.

      I'm still waiting to see that commitment have any effect.

      Won't be holding my breath.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If they can't fix it they should be shut down

        I'm still waiting to see that commitment have any effect.

        No, you will not. It is a simple equation. The cost of fulfilling the commitment is not recouped by the extra revenue and/or savings versus the case where you fail to fulfil it. The problem is 100% in the second half of the equation.

        That may change. If Zuck has crossed Soros, that may make things extremely interesting.

        I have observed Soros for 3 decades in Eastern Europe. Granted in that locality and those days his activities were so closely aligned with USA interests that it was difficult to discern when it is his foundation and when it was the embassy muddying the waters. With that caveat in mind suffice to say that governments that tried to oppose him in the past did not last long.

        Sure, the situation now is different, USA gov't policy is different, location is different too. However, based on past observations, this is one fight Zuck should not have picked up.

        In any case, where is that Belaz full of popcorn. I thought I ordered it as far back as the Cambridge Analytica affair.

  4. gerdesj Silver badge


    "And magical super mysterious unknown AI will switch the curve to this"


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Magic

      All the numbers he's shown are probably bollocks - how can you actually know how much percentage of "hate speech" you capture? You can say we have "blocker or removed x% more messages than y months ago" - but "the amount of hate speech we detect proactively, before anyone reports it, has more than doubled from 24% to 52%" - how did you identify the "100%" baseline? If you know that's 52% of something, you evidently know enough about what the remaining 48% is... and why you didn't act on it?

      Or they meant they identified it but let it through until someone reported it, so they caught only 52% of reports proactively? But why let it through if you have identified it??? How many times it was used before being reported????

      It looks to me just numbers made up by some PR team and thrown there just because they look good.

      While, how that could be confirmed independently? Did they got only the low-hanging fruits to increase some number, maybe letting thorough the most dangerous ones? We are not speaking about identical items - there's a big difference among these kind of topics.

  5. onefang

    'He also rejected the comparison between efforts by a public relations firm to influence the media with efforts by trolls and foreign powers to influence the media.

    "I don't think that analogy makes sense," he said.'

    After all, the former is a corporate thing, and the later is governments and arseholes. As we all know, corporations can do no wrong, and the sooner they complete their take over of the worlds governments, the better off Zuck, er I mean we all will be. Arseholes are just arseholes.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      To be fair to Facebook, they seem to have only targeted right-wing (presumably) Americans.

      Again presumably because they're the ones most likely to take the bait.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "they seem to have only targeted right-wing (presumably) Americans."

        No, the trolls targeted both camps to stir division - to get the best burning flame you need at least two components, each feeding the other. The final aim was to help Trump, but they also needed to stir up the other side extremists to male that side look more dangerous - and most of them took the bait too. Extremists first act and then think.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "they seem to have only targeted right-wing (presumably) Americans."

          No, the trolls targeted both camps to stir division

          And it's by no means limited to the US - look at Myanmar and the refugees or India and the huge surge in killings based on fake news spread by FB and/or Messenger.

          In short, give fanatics of any stripe an easy (and cheap) propaganda platform and they'll use it, regardless of the consequence to the targets of their bile. Human nature sucks.

          (This doesn't absolve FB/Google of the blame for aiding this and placing their income/share price over the cost to people and society)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      On a serious note, we already have megacorps as people doing things people do, usually badly. The next step up the tier is megacorps acting the same as nation-states, usually badly. Hell, why not? The even have their own courts via ISDS.

      Nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  6. onebignerd


    Zuckerberg just collects a paycheck, cause he doesn't seem to know about anything going on in that company. His promises are wearing very thin!!!

    1. el kabong

      Zuck's so busy making faecebook great again that he's got no time.

      Zuck is too busy to know anything about the inner workings of faecebook.

      Making faecebook great again is very hard work!

    2. msknight

      Re: Clueless

      His promises are already so thin that they're in negative mass.

    3. DropBear

      Re: Clueless

      So if not knowing you're doing stuff you shouldn't be doing is an excuse, can I use it the next time to claim to have been oblivious to a law...? Come on, I'm even willing to call it "the Zuckerberg Defence"...

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Clueless

        We seek him here, we seek him there,

        Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.

        Is he in heaven? Is he in hell?

        That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.

        We seek him here, we seek him there,

        His employees seek him everywhere.

        Is he in heaven? Is he in hell?

        That demmed, elusive Zuckerberg.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Facebook is committed to fighting disinformation ...

    ... by spreading disinformation about those who dare question Facebook's commitment to fighting disinformation.

    Did I get that right, Zuck?

    This is why I don't have a Facebook account and this is why I refuse to interview at Facebook, in spite of having been contacted by their recruiters several times this year.

  8. cd

    An article about how Fb sucks is not news. Even if the suck in a "new" way.

  9. Eddy Ito

    in an effort to deflect criticism over the Cambridge Analytica scandal... hired "a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters..."

    Marky, Mark, Mark, don't you know that two fuck-ups don't ever make a 'good-on-ya'?

    Apologies to the real Marky Mark and the rest of the Wahlburgers.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

    which argues that suggesting Facebook's intent in shining a spotlight on Soros was anti-Semitic is "reprehensible and untrue."

    That is something I may actually agree with. Painting any disagreement with Soros as anti-Semitism is the same as painting any disagreement with Israel or some venerable institutions of Judaism.

    For example I disagree with Israel and the Yad Vashem in assigning two murderous bastards which have come up with an "advanced concentration" camp design approved by the Nazis as a righteous gentiles. I also disagree with both of them denying the Holocaust in the country in question.

    The design was - instead of shipping the Jews of said country north to the camps, to lock them up in "open jail conditions" in the malaria swamps along the Danube and forbid every doctor in the country to treat them. It was nearly successful.

    Tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors from that country owe their lives to 4 village GPs and one hospital director which obeyed their Hippocratic oaths and treated them during the Malaria pandemic of 1944. 3 of them did not make it. Gestapo took care of them. None has even as much as commemorating board on their houses and practices.

    So is disagreeing "politely" (I usually start swearing here) with Yad Vashem on the subject of the inventors of said camps being righteous gentiles anti-Semitic? I personally do not think so. However if I get out in public, step on the soap box and say exactly what I think I will have all the usual suspects will scream at me as an anti-Semite (*). In fact, but the so called "approved" defition I am - read it carefully, it phrases "holocaust denial" in a very interesting way.

    So having an opinion of Soros similar to my opinion of Yad Vashem is not by any means anti-Semitism.

    (*)Disclaimer - for me it's personal, my grandad was the hospital director. He never asked for any recognition until his death and I understood what he had done in 1944 decades after he died.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

      Well, that was quite an off-topic rant.

      The issue, however, is people using "Soros" as a catchall term of abuse, rather like Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984. Soros is often attacked for spending his money on promoting progressive ideas.

      There is definitely a dogwhistle in there, though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

        Well, that was quite an off-topic rant.

        I can rant on topic too.

        I had to deal with his foundation multiple times - as a part of my not particularly pleasant couple of years in the USA. The moment it became clear that I will not politically convert to the direction they wanted all of the participants to go, they forgot to fucking pay my scholarship for the semester. There is no better way to learn what is USA as observing it from the lowest rung on the social ladder. The one occupied by a student with E1 visa (one which in the 90es forbid ANY AND ALL work) in a city of 10k where you cannot find work in the first place while being 5k in the red. I was not the only one too. I understood after that similar unfortunate accounting mistakes happened to a couple of the other kids on that program. For similar reasons.

        I had to deal with them while leading student protests in the same country as referred in the aforementioned "off topic rant". I ordered the security goons to count three floors worth of steps with the butt of the guy offering us various "benefits and incightments" to direct our protest in a direction they and the USA embassy wanted. I thoroughly enjoyed observing the order being executed by the way.

        They have their own agendas and these agendas are USUALLY not in the interest of the countries where they operate. That is the polite version. The version I usually use is "they are f*** c*nts". However, having that opinion of him and "Open Society" does not make me anti-Semitic. Same as my opinion of Yod Vashem.

    2. BigSLitleP

      Re: Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

      You see, here's the thing: Do you actually have good reasons to dislike Soros? The guy is a billionaire and seems to be attempting to use that money and power to actually help people. I can't see anything wrong with him as a person.

      Now, the other side to that is i don't think anyone should have that level of money and power. For those reason, i am *skeptical* that he is a s good as he appears.

      So the question is this: Do you dislike George Soros for something he does / has done or is it something about him *culturally* that you don't like? Or do you just *feel* like you shouldn't like him? Racism can blindside you without you realizing that you are racist.

      Second side note, there is nothing anti-Semitic about criticizing the Israeli government, in the same way that i'm not anti-american just because i think the republicans and Trump need to fall down a well and die. But if i say i dislike *Jews* or *Americans* because of things those governments are doing, well....

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

        Helping people is conventionally done via founding charities. Bill Gates is somebody who pretty much everybody can agree is helping people by fighting disease etc, and his political involvement is limited to his core activities, such as last time he was on stage pushing toilets suitable for the conditions in africa to improve sanitation etc.

        Mr Soros on the other hand has alongside such activities invested very, very significant sums (reportedly in the billions) into making political changes. He deserves at least the same level of scrutiny as Mr Murdoch does when he attempts to meddle in public affairs.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

        "You see, here's the thing: Do you actually have good reasons to dislike Soros?"

        Several. In general, he has made his 'zillions' by forcing other people to lose THEIRS.

        maybe THIS will help:

        That's right, currency manipulation and no jail time for doing it. According to one source, he was convicted of insider trading in a French court in 2002.

        stopping before it becomes a rant.

        Also worth pointing out: when DISAGREEING with someone who's non-white and/or not-male becomes "a plethora of '-phobe' accusations", it not only waters down the condemnation of REAL racism/sexism etc. but it makes those pointing the [falsely] accusatory fingers appear as if they are a whole lot of SJW ninny-nanny political correctness fascists. And same goes for when Fa[e]cebook makes its charges of the SAME kinds of things against those whom they deem worthy of CENSORSHIP. So if there's any targeting of conservatives or anyone right of center, it's FA[E]CEBOOK doing most of it.

        And, of course, pointing this out, in Fa[e]cebook's world, would make me a "-phobe" [name your prefix, and rinse/repeat into a long list as if that makes me look worse].

        icon, because, it's funny

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

        @BigSLitleP re: "i'm not anti-american"

        Maybe you could explain what's wrong with being anti-american?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The self-selecting IQ test.

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Face de bouc

    Face de bouc was built on the exploitation of the worse sides of human beings. From an arsehole don't expect anything but shit.

  13. cat_mara

    Schrödinger's CEO

    CEOs: Well, of course I have to be paid an obscene multiple of our other employees' salaries-- the buck stops with me, you know! I take the risks! It's my ass on the line if the company is found to have done anything improper!

    Also CEOs: Boo hoo, I didn't know what was going on; honestly, how can anyone be expected to stay on top of everything around here?! That money was just resting in my account etc etc

  14. Oh Homer

    Our propaganda is better than yours

    Zuck is a fscking hypocrite.

  15. User McUser

    Content Moderation

    And by machine-learning, Facebook may well mean a small army of poorly paid human content-moderators.

    The PBS series Independent Lens recently aired a documentary film on these content moderators called "The Cleaners." Available to watch online here: I highly recommend it.

    On a related note, Frontline (another PBS program) recently did a two-part series on Face Book called "The Face Book Dilemma". It's an excellent primer to share with your friends who don't understand what all the fuss is about. Also available to watch online, here:

  16. Stevie


    Was totally buying Big Z's waffle until he announced he'd "read the article" [in the New York Times].

    Zuckerberg reads newspapers? That is one bridge too big to swallow. Or something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      Probably he had an aide read it while another was performing a pedicure...

  17. binary

    Facebook is bad for your health!

    The easiest way to eliminate Facebook, is the way we did Usenet: disjoin. Difficult to do if you are a tobacco-chewer.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Facebook is bad for your health!

      I think tobacco is less addictive than social media

  18. FuzzyWuzzys

    Zuckerberg, a child trapped in an adult's body, adult's job and adult's life.

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