Saturday, November 30, 2019

International king maker: Mark Zuckerberg helped Modi,Trump and Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines in elections

The Facebook CEO views all politics as merely instrumental to the fortunes of his company.  

FILE PHOTO: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testifies about cryptocurrency Libra at House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington<br>FILE PHOTO: Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing examining the company’s plan to launch a digital currency on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo

What are Mark Zuckerberg’s politics? Based on recent events, one might assume the young billionaire favors American conservatism, even explicit Republican positions.

On Thursday, NBC News revealed that the CEO of Facebook had a secret dinner at the White House in October with President Donald Trump. Zuckerberg was accompanied by Facebook board member and long-time mentor Peter Thiel. Thiel is notorious among Silicon Valley billionaires for explicitly endorsing Trump in 2016 and speaking at the Republican National Convention that year. Thiel, a libertarian who runs a company that enhances government surveillance efforts, has also questioned the value of women voting.

That October dinner was the second in two months at which Zuckerberg dined with Trump. It followed a series of dinners at Zuckerberg’s home in California with conservative pundits and activists like white supremacist Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

Recently, Zuckerberg has warned his employees that the potential election of liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren to the presidency would be an “existential” threat to his company. And when Senator Bernie Sanders suggested taxing his fellow billionaires to fund essential government programs, Zuckerberg responded that billionaires might know better than government-sponsored scientists how to deploy resources as precious as funds for research.

Zuckerberg’s politics favor two things: the interests of Facebook and people like him. So it’s no wonder Zuckerberg got close to the two American presidents who have served over his company’s history. Since the the world abandoned its mindless worship of Facebook and Silicon Valley in recent years, Zuckerberg has been on a constant if unsuccessful campaign to save face and stem efforts to regulate or fracture his company.

So the problem with Zuckerberg’s politics is not just that they seem to have turned to the right. His politics have not changed at all. The world has. The problem is that by choosing an amoral set of principles and positions he has become deeply immoral.

Facebook placed staff in the offices of Rodrigo Duterte when he ran for president of the Philippines in 2016, even though Duterte ran on an explicit platform of vigilante violence and extrajudicial killings – a pledge he has kept since riding Facebook’s communicative power to victory. Zuckerberg had business reasons to help Duterte, and did not let Duterte’s brutality get in the way.

Zuckerberg has hugged Narendra Modi, who has ruled India since 2014 by stirring up Hindu nationalist sentiments and crushing the interests of Muslims. Zuckerberg has never expressed misgivings about that alliance, and Modi, like Duterte, rode Facebook and WhatsApp to victory in his elections.

Facebook placed staff with the 2016 Trump campaign as well, even though Trump made racist statements in his campaign launch speech in 2015 and his administration has proceeded to kidnap children from their parents by the thousands and to brutalize those who seek asylum in the United States. Zuckerberg’s most dangerous political belief is his firm conviction that what’s good for Facebook is good for the world.

At the very moment when the US House of Representatives reveals overwhelming evidence that Trump used his power as president to support his re-election campaign and bolster his friend Vladimir Putin by withholding support from Ukraine, Zuckerberg continues to treat the Trump White House as just another potential regulator who must be charmed.

Democracy is in retreat around the world. Ethnic and racial violence – often state-supported – is on the rise. The social fabric is fraying. Our ability to think clearly about our great problems recedes a bit farther every day. Facebook has played a part in all of that. Yet the company’s leader, who was until recently lauded as a role model for the young, stays out of the fray.

Zuckerberg’s unwillingness to take a stand for basic human decency, his insistence that all politics are merely instrumental to the fortunes of his company, and his belief that he knows best, show him to be political in the most craven ways.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is a professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy—The Guardian ( Excerpted)

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