Why Facebook’s Political Moves Should Terrify Us All

Facebook Washington

Power is often something that is earned. It’s also something that can be taken by making the right moves. As Facebook continues to expand its reach in Washington, alarm bells should be ringing in every one of our skeptical minds.

For the most part, it will go unnoticed. It’s like the perfect bomb – two components that are benign by themselves but deadly when mixed. While most would say that neither Washington nor Facebook are benign, it should be noted that the potential of combining the entities is more than just dangerous. It will prove to be deadly.

There will be those who say that everything I’m about to write is paranoid gibberish or unfounded analysis. Believe what you will, but don’t be foolish or blind. This is a potentially dangerous situation. Here’s why:

The Unholy Alliance

Obama Zuckerberg

The moves that Facebook plans on making go well beyond getting lobbyists to protect their interests. Currently, Facebook’s only public-facing interest is control over basic Internet functions – pageviews, eCommerce, social influence, and access. Facebook is already exceptional at controlling pageviews. Their eCommerce department is working feverishly (albeit stealthily) to embed Facebook as a centralized middleman for buying and selling through the Internet. Their social influence is unquestioned and nearly unchallenged. Access – new websites are born every day that encourage or require logging in through Facebook.

Rather than hiring lobbyists, Facebook is hiring Washington insiders. They already have a COO in the form of former Clinton administration official Sheryl Sandberg, a General Counsel in the form of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia clerk Ted Ullyot, and they are eying President Obama’s former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for their communications team.

This is just the beginning.

The only reason a company would pay the premium to get politicos on board is to have the influence and clout to make serious moves in Washington. That’s it. There’s no other valid reason. With 3, it could be a coincidence. We expect to see more down the line.

What moves could they possibly be considering? What do they want, and what would they have to offer?

This is where the speculation goes off the reservation. Facebook is a longshot candidate to be involved with the proposed National Internet ID. That longshot status could change quickly if they are able to convince the administration that they possess both the skills and the manpower to make it a reality in a way that people will be willing to embrace.

There are other things they want in Washington, but this is the big prize. Because the concept of a National Internet ID is to protect people while online and encourage eCommerce, Facebook is poised to be a recipient of some form of benefits once it’s in place. They could help administer it at the high end. They could be an integrated partner on the low end. Either way, they win.

As far as what they have to offer, it’s pretty clear. They have the data. They have the users. They have the attention of the nation and the world in a way that no other website has truly held. Even Google is useful but not as integrated into our day-to-day lives the way Facebook is.

They will never admit it, but it’s the biggest thing they have that the government wants. Are you scared yet?

Why It Should Scare You

Blair Witch Project

The National Internet ID as a concept should terrify you already, but Facebook would double the danger. You see, Facebook as a company does not have a track-record of having our best interests in mind or of protecting our information in any way, shape or form. Their political aspirations go beyond Farmville and poking. They are making a play for real power.

The US government does not have a strong track-record of wielding their power in ways that the people want. Sure, this is a democracy, but did we vote to be groped? Did we tell the government it was okay to wiretap citizens without a court order? The questionable decisions go on and on. Add Facebook’s trillions of bits of data about us, our friends, and our activities to the mix and suddenly you have a recipe for 1984.

Big Brother won’t just be watching if Facebook gets more ears in Washington.

Talk Me Off the Ledge

On a Ledge

I don’t want to believe this stuff. It makes sense to me, but I’m open to hearing other ideas. Why is Facebook so interested in Washington? What is the “master plan” behind these moves? Tell me I’m being paranoid, but do so only after you’ve really thought about it. I never ask for comments, but this time I must. Talk me off the ledge.

Keep in mind, we, as a company, live by Facebook. It hurts me to talk trash on them when our Facebook Marketing Firm is getting new customers by the bushel. I don’t want to believe the worse, but I haven’t seen any other logical explanations for their recent moves.

Tell me it’s all going to be alright.

JD Rucker

+JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

56 thoughts on “Why Facebook’s Political Moves Should Terrify Us All

  1. Hi there,
    Well, first of all, I want to say that I thought your article was interesting, but I was apalled by the lack of attribution of your sources. This makes it difficult for me to take anything you have to say seriously.

    But besides that, if someone did take your urgings to be afraid of facebook seriously, then I would say that it’s a person’s choice to be on FB. If you want you can delete your profile. No one is forcing you to use it. If FB did become entangled with gov and internet ID’s I’d say goodbye. Not everyone would–that’s their choice.

    The beauty of the internet is that if enough people feel like they’re being jerked around, they’ll go elsewhere, they’ll create a new platform. WE have the power. THEY can try to take it away from us, but I personally believe that it won’t work.

  2. I don’t buy that people can just go elsewhere. The Internet ID is about being mandated by government.

    Sure there is a counter-culture of being informed tech-savy rebels. But at some point said rebels who have been careful to keep off FB will want to interact e.g. buy from those who are mainstream, and those rebels will have to compromise and get embraced.

  3. I liked the article, and I’m sorry to say this but I laughed when I saw the like icon at the bottom.

  4. why would facebook have any obligation to their users? As these website monopolies grow they are rarely ever challenged. Of course they’ll want more and more power, and more and more control over their community’s information. The fact that the government is interested in peoples personal information shouldn’t be all that surprising. They could buy it the same way any marketing agency could. I still don’t believe the fact that people really don’t have any idea how facebook makes their money. They think it’s some sort of a free service. But it’s not, it’s a giant marketing circle jerk. If Zuckerberg had been doing the same 15 years ago he would’ve been a spammer.

  5. power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    beware the real reasons for pushing net neutrality. they want to become the gate keeper (like China).

    FB wants to own you then monetize upon your identity (like Apple).

    i’m just glad i’m canadian (don’t know how long this’ll keep me safe…)…

    seems like judgement day really is inevitable :p

  6. Facebook IS filtering this link. It won’t post on your Facebook profile page.

    http://soshable.com/why-facebooks-political-moves-should-terrify-us-all

  7. There’s no reason to worry because it’s inevitable. The Internet has become a steamship heading towards the Ministry Of Truth, once docked properly we will all be in some wise processed and recorded, else be Outcast of some type, down the memory hole.

    Life is about to imitate art, but nobody really believed that Orwell’s worst fantasy wouldn’t happen, did they? Did you?

    Power, which at a certain level is synonymous with Money, will always accrue into the hands of a smaller and smaller group, this is simple human nature. We learned this on the playground, and politics, statecraft, and world affairs are merely these principles writ large.

    There is nothing to worry about, again, because the Internet was always going to turn into something like this, because it’s the perfect enslavement: by one’s own desires.

    I was 28 years old when I got my first email account, and realised after sending and receiving my first few emails that 1. this would not always be ‘free’ and 2. this would be put to evil purposes.

    What tool has mankind crafted, which has not at one time or place at least, been weaponised? We are a warlike and a greedy race and have simply built a better weapon to use against eachother.

    Nothing to see here. Carry on.

    It matters very little

  8. Not happening. The second something like this comes to light, everybody would start deleting their accounts.

  9. I share your doubts and fears, that’s why I still haven’t start a FB account yet although I do have a twitter account though. Nevertheless I’m mixed up, at least you know FB is networking Washington. I think in the end they can monitor anything apart from FB as well and I’m not surprised if that’s not already going on. That maybe might not be that democratic, but that’s why they don’t tell everything and we don’t know everything and we users should keep that in mind. We only live in a ‘democratic’ world to a certain level.
    I don’t mean it’s all a big conspiracy, but I do believe that every government has the power to monitor our digital world (and beyond) and when they feel it’s necessary they will use it and they will do it secretly or make up a law to make it right in their perspective. That already happened back in the cold war (and before), only the target and tools were different.

  10. Other large and powerful internet companies are currently facing scrutiny for anti-competitive or monopolistic behavior. However, none of them come close to the market domination held by Facebook. They may be reaching out to Washington for the reasons you suggest but I believe their goals include protection from anti-trust scrutiny.

  11. @NOah After you delete your account, are you then going to hack into the servers that still contain all of your information and wipe that out too?

  12. Here’s the deal. It’s no biggie to have a national ID. Transactions are going to be so exclusively done online that just for the sake of sanity in identifying entities involved in a purchase and verifying their credit for the purpose of the sale. This is “government” involvement, but only from the perspective of contract enforcement. Additionally, fro ma private business standpoint, the ID allows vendors to contact you for the purpose of advertising the products in a DIRECTED way, which cuts down on the amount of unwanted spam that plagues our existence currently. For the time being, Facebook may simply be buddying up to government so that it’s at the front of the line for involvement in administering that ID–that is, they want the contract.

    In and of it self, this is not a bad thing. Here’s how it turns wicked… CRONY-ISM. If Facebook lobbies to have government grant it an exclusive monopoly on how the internet ID is administered, it will open us up to corruption and abuses. As far as the “security” risk of the idea, we will simply have to keep fighting for our right to withhold any information we’d like to keep private…the best way to do that is to keep it off the internet, but there will be advocates willing to rise to the effort of allowing users to dictate the level of exposure they receive via the ID program. SO basically, don’t freak out. YET.

  13. I completely agree. Nothing good comes from a single entity having this much information about people. I also assume that government institutions are already using specialized FB tools for whatever need they have and crossing this information with Twitter, linekdin and other networks. Just look at http://www.rapleaf.com, do you really think at least one agency doesn’t have something like this?

    National Internet ID will come, but I think nobody will care much. Probably you will be able to login with FB or Twitter :D to the government anyway. This final process will just give more accuracy to the data-grid already available for each one of us.

    In my case, I use linkedIn because is good for business, but no FB to give away for free my family’s private life.

    Very good article by the way :)

  14. Watch out folks. This isn’t paranoia. It’s the US Government tapping into almost everyone in the world- right in front of your eyes.

    Real Patriots would fight against all this corruption.
    When will you Americans stand up to your government like the true patriots in the Middle East?

  15. Ya there is an undeniable creep factor involved in FB. I highly doubt that any cooperation w/ washington would ever be made public as it would spell disaster for FB. Everyone from left wing crunchies to right wing gun-toters would instantly jump ship. If it ever happens it will not be done publicly. They will just slip in an internet ID tab in your profile and that will be that. Wouldn’t even surprise me if your FB id would one day become your internet ID straight up.

    It will happen because most people really do not care enough to look up from their farmville game. America is the only country in history to fall apart simply from laziness.

    We all make our own beds ya know.

  16. @Shalon Sims,

    One does not simply walk away from facebook. Although you can disable your account, all of the info is stored with facebook. To reactivate it, all you have to do is simply log in and everything that used to be there will be back. Outside of that, if all of your friends and family do not walk away and try to disable their accounts you are easily tracked by association.

  17. Facebook, as a medium for online order? LOL.

    Yeah prob there will be internet national facebook ID but that won’t do much since facebook is still way below ebay/amazon level in terms of online orders. Yes they have made tons of money from games, but that’s about it.

    So basically, let’s say there’s this national facebook ID. I don’t want one, i can still use the net but not facebook and ordering via facebook right? Then that’s cool.

    And of course it’s impossible for facebook to “monopolize” other big companies payment processor like paypal or even apple app store. They would move outside the US if the government force everyone to use facebook as their payment ID or whatever. lol

  18. I don’t see why you’re so concerned. It’s not like it’s mandatory that you have a facebook account….and it’s certainly not mandatory that you publicly share personal info on your facebook page. Anyone who’s that worried about facebook’s potential ulterior motives, should do what I did a few years ago….delete your facebook account. Problem solved.

  19. Please remember, for all those posting “I’ll just delete my account if this ever gets out of hand.”

    Do you not know how large collections of data and web applications work?

    Once you upload a photo, like something, share something, link something, buy something on this and practically any other site, that information is recorded in very very (unfathomably) large databases.

    “Deleting” your profile, simply makes your profile not visible to other users. The data you’ve been adding for years, is still stored, backed up, copied, sold, indexed, and utilized until well after your own death.

    And even if it was “permanent” deletion, a previous poster was also correct: Anytime you try to go “off the grid”, no matter how good you are, or how well you think you’ve erased yourself from your online footprint, you will constantly be interacting with others (just about everyone from their family and friends on down to their grade-school teacher) who are still on the grid. So, de facto, you’re still on grid too. Easily traceable, easily trackable, easily findable, classified, indexed, enumerated.

    Will this identity stamp be used like numbers tattooed on our skin, and all of us rustled into cattle cars for some “final solution”? I guess we shall see. But this level of tagging, and the potential for abuse, is unprecedented in all of human history.

    We’re f—ed.

  20. I’m sorry Andrew, but thats not problem solved. Once you sign up for Facebook, anything and everything linked to your profile is owned by Facebook. They can use your name, photos, birth date, whatever they want. Even content not generated by you is linked to your profile (think: Permanent Record in grade school). All of this info is categorized and offered up to the highest bidder.

    If you delete your profile, all of your information still belongs to them and you’ll have a Government ID without even knowing it. You’ll try to use your card to buy something off Amazon or Zappos and you’ll be asked to enter in your ID, which you didn’t know you had.

    Facebook and Google are the two most powerful internet based companies in the world.

  21. Just because you CLAIM that they are “overpaying” for those former policitians (which is what they are…former) doesn’t mean they are. So maybe they hired them becuase they got a good deal cost wise on the return.

    I mean, I know you are a blogger, so not an ACTUAL writer than anyone would expect real journalism for, but even you must realize that you can’t make complete guesses and then use those guesses as damning evidence.

  22. I agree with *almost* everything you said in your article! It was very well written and presented. Loved it!

    My one problem is that you made the mistake made by the many… And you barely edged it in there, mentioned it once actually.

    You said that, “Sure, this is a democracy, but did we vote to be groped?”

    My problem with that statement is that we do not live in a democracy in any sense of the term. We live in a constitutional/representational republic. Their is a document that governs everyway that our government is supposed to act and behave and carry things out. It’s called a constitution, just in case you didn’t know. We do not vote on every nitty gritty detail of how our government works. We elect ‘representatives’ that will hopefully hold our best interests at heart. We can also make petitions for laws and amendments that the people will vote on. But, we don’t necassarily have the last word in that. It can easily be changed with-in a few years by the people we have put in power positions. The only way we can really effectively shpe how our government works is by electing people who WILL hold our best interests at heart and will listen o what all the people want, not just THEIR people.

    Signing off,

    “defender of the Republic”
    Nehemiah Salo

  23. Very interesting article. I am doing quite a bit of research along these same subject lines and I was actually astonished to see this article as it closely follows along some of my own thoughts. Great article. As far as citing sources, there is plenty of content to base much of these perspectives on for anyone willing to search.

  24. As I once heard someone say, it probably isn’t true that its some big conspiracy of a master plan, but just a bunch of people making mini-power decisions, “cool” ideas they want to embrace, and sometimes stupid decisions to do the next big thing in various ways. Thus in the end creates such a large overpowered interconnected thing. I hope that makes since.

  25. Could it have anything to do with the fact that Obama wants to have all medical records completely electronic & all Hospitals, Doctors & patients able to find these medical records on-line in one search engine? Maybe that is all there is to it & Mark Zuckerberg wants in on the ground floor. But your probably right.

  26. I hope your article is correct. Myself and many others will simply not buy anything on-line. We will do what we should have been doing all along; that is, to support local businesses. Sure, we will have to pay taxes on purchases, but that is coming soon to a internet near you regardless.

  27. If facebook expands into, and eventually dominates e-commerce, it will probably come under the scrutiny of anti-trust laws. Even if this does not happen, they make a ton of money and have tax and possibly SEC concerns. They are probably just loading up on people who have friends in high places who might owe them a favor or two when Facebook gets in legal trouble some day.

  28. Meh, it’s scary and all, but if you want to bring up 1984, just have a facebook account and make sure you follow all the little rules (ie, be active to a minor extent) so that you can break the big ones without drawing attention.

  29. What if?

    The funny thing is that no one even considers the fact that if FB was a government and had access to most if not all of your communication and knowledge of what you’re doing, it would be a violation of civil rights, but somehow if it’s a private company that answers to no one it’s a non issue.

    Everyone is on FB, right? You want to be a part of all that everyone is doing, right? So what if they have all that data. What are they going to do, use it against you? You’re way to smart for that, right? I mean, people have choices and when they know FB is doing something suspect, they will just go to MySpace or somewhere else, right?

    If I had all of that data and the resources, I would be developing algorithms to manipulate my flock of FB denizens to do my bidding. Of course we are all too smart for that, right? Bet you all have a favorite TV show. TV is written specifically to sell Advertisement, not to entertain. The entertainment is designed and constructed to manipulate you into “staying tuned.” If you have a favorite TV show or watch TV for that matter, you can be easily manipulated. How bout you smokers? Bet you think you enjoy that cigarette, right? Or has your brain tricked you into thinking it’s satisfying and delicious?

    To the author:

    If your inquisitive enough to see that FB could have less than good intentions, and are able to see how the data they have could be used to do anything and everything, you’re not paranoid. Ask yourself what you would do if you had a vast amount of data on people from all over the world and you had companies and governments offering you everything to get some, what would you do?

    Also, the government folk hired at FB are just there to keep an eye on the government and smooth relations. FB has enough data and enough “followers” to influence an election.

  30. Call me crazy, but I like the idea of users of the internet having to take some responsibility for their actions when on the internet.

  31. First off, you’re not paranoid. Your cautious and skeptical but not paranoid. I won’t directly comment on this article but will comment on the complacency we as humans dwell in. When something happens that’s wrong, we dismiss it. We choose to ignore it or look for another explanation. We are bred this way to believe that ‘people’ generally have our best interests in mind. We allow advertising to make our decisions for us because we we choose to believe the message. We don’t trust our governments but we accept them because we have no choice, it’s a two party system. Either way you lose so we become complacent.
    Oh every once in awhile we ‘protest’ in hopes of feeling like we have power but in the end we control nothing and we go back to our drone like lives. We trust the news is accurate that we hear and that nothing is hidden so we are always in the loop but we know that isn’t true either. We are only told what is deemed necessary and only what ‘we can handle’. This is our lives this is how we work and nothing will change this.
    There will be people who disagree with this of course, believe that they do choose and have the power but in the end, do you really? If you can objectively look back and think about how you live your life and make your choices the only power you really have is decisions that only affect you. Since so many decisions always affect others, work, school, relationships, family. etc. this percentage is pretty small.
    So when a company like Facebook makes a run for power, we allow it because surely they have our best interests at heart

  32. @Charlie: why are you saying fb is filtering this link out? I posted it without problem. (a minute ago, do they now not filter it anymore?)

  33. “Big Brother” has been watching us for years. This is nothing new. In fact, “Big Brother” has been watching us, via Internet search engines like Google and Yahoo.

  34. Sounds like mark of the beast preparation to me. If you read Revelations 13:17…the only thing I gathered from that is that it had to be corporation. Maybe it’s Facebook.

  35. You: hi
    cashier: hi, will that be paper or plastic…
    you: plastic
    cashier: ok, what is your facebook ID number
    you: 1235926
    cashier: ok, thanks for shopping at Safeway

  36. So what do we control in this virtual environment? Surprisingly, quite a lot. We control what we post, what we click, and whether we post at all. At one time MySpace was all the rage, I even had one myself, there’s no reason to believe the public won’t be just as fickle with facebook as they were with myspace. In the mean time, keep your ears and eyes open and only give them what you want them to know. Nothing real, or dangerous.
    Zuckerberg is a kid, relatively speaking, he thinks he (and Facebook) are going to live forever. The truth is, none of us do.

  37. Afraid of Facebook? Then log off.

    You don’t have to use facebook. They offer a service. You choose to use it. Whatever benefits you get come at the cost information they require of you, the user. Is the cost worth it? (sounds like it is when you say “we, as a company, live by Facebook”)

  38. Love this article. I’ve linked to it from my marketing blog with the following commentary. (I promise I’m not spam or a robot):

    Want to hear a crack pot theory? Zuckerberg is trying to make Facebook “too big to fail”.

    If Facebook really is a bubble, and that bubble were to burst, the price tag for the collateral damage would dwarf the cost of propping up the failing network. Imagine for a moment just how much all of the businesses, celebrities, ad campaigns, and social causes stand to lose if Facebook went bust. There are too many influential stakeholders to let a meltdown occur.

    The scope of Facebook’s infrastructure is simply staggering, and regardless of how robust their revenue models are (or aren’t) Facebook is a pillar of American cyber-culture.

    Moreover, in some unbelievable strecth of the imagination, social networking has surpassed pornography as the number one activity on the Internet. In the interest of testing the limits to hyperbole, just try to picture the Internet without pornography.

    If this analogy doesn’t strike you as startling keep in mind that computer porn predates the Internet, and was a major impetus for widespread technologies like streaming video, chat rooms, and e-commerce . . . and now porn is #2 to Facebook.

  39. First of all, where does all this information come from. It sounds to me like you made all of this up. Second, who cares if Obama got shake hands with Mark Zuckerburg?

  40. Hello!!!! Has no one here heard of a credit card! What your talking about is basically.the same concept save for the fact that adds and such are specifically catered.to you. Can.you rent a car or.get a hotel room without a credit.card any more? NO! And it has to be a credit card with your billing address attached! It’s all the same thing. I know I will never.do.grocery shopping.online. as most people in the world I go to the store for 90% of.the things I want.to.buy. Facebook or government is won’t change that so just relax. It’s “just” another credit.card.

  41. This is not just about targeted marketing. Take note of how the various rebellions around the world are being supported and even organized through social networks. How can you possibly miss the fact that the US government is paying very close attention to this activity. How long do you think it is going to be before one of these rebellions is in direct conflict with the perceived interests of the US government. Why would they want to shut down any social network when the user communities are spoon-feeding data right to them while they sip their morning coffee. Have you friended wikileaks or Ron Paul? Are you part of the 51% + of our society that supports some type of drug policy reform? Have you ever had any interaction with a potentially corrupt police officer who merely has to “find” drugs in your possesion in order to take away your ability to get a student loan, to have a drivers license, or other freedoms simply because your skin color is too dark? (Tulia, Texas anyone?). Maybe you’ve innocently friended a person who has. If you cannot envision a scenario in which one day, due to a minor change in laws, your behaviors or beliefs wind up in conflict with national security, you are not paying attention. Samuel Caldwell, a 57 year old man was arrested in 1937 for selling two joints THE SAME DAY that the Marihuana Tax Act was put into law. He was sentenced to 4 years of hard labor. He died the year after he was release from prison. The production of industrial hemp, which is not psychoactive, has both been considered patriotic (Hemp for Victory) and a considered a financial resource for global terrorism at different times in US history. Don’t delude yourself by thinking these are more enlightened times either. John McCain, who could have become president, sponsored a bill in 2010 (S.3081) that attempted to give wide latitude to the office of the president in deciding who is a threat to national security and who can be detained. How many close-calls do we have to have before game-changing bill becomes law and you find yourself playing for the wrong team? We are on a knife’s edge. It could go either way. Given that local law enforcement, federal agencies and everyone in between, and private corporations (e.g. insurance companies) are already using social networks to track and profile people, I have a feeling they have their own interests in mind, and not mine or yours.

  42. So what? Whats it going to change? Who gives a shit anyways? The Zionist Rothschild’s been running the world without anybody really noticing the last couple of hundred years.

  43. I create a comment whenever I appreciate a article on a website
    or I have something to contribute to the conversation.
    It’s caused by the fire displayed in the post I read. And after
    this post Why Facebook?s Political Moves Should Terrify Us All.
    I was actually excited enough to create a thought
    :-P I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s okay.
    Is it only me or does it look like like a few of the responses come across like
    they are left by brain dead individuals? :-P
    And, if you are posting at other online social sites, I’d like to follow everything
    fresh you have to post. Could you list every one of all your
    social pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin
    profile?

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