According to a fascinating piece by Cory Doctorow, the dictatorship in Cambodia has been using Facebook to undermine the opposition in that country, by suppression, false news, and violence.
“The Cambodian government has cultivated a deep expertise in Facebook’s baroque acceptable conduct rules, and they use this expertise to paint opposition speech as in violation of Facebook’s policies, using the company’s anti-abuse systems to purge their rivals from the platform. Offline, the government has targeted the independent press with raids and arrests, shutting down most of the media it does not control.”
And they seem to have been directly aided by Facebook itself.
“[L]ast October, Facebook used Cambodia in an experiment to de-emphasize news sources in peoples’ feeds — a change it will now roll out worldwide — and hid those remaining independent reporters from the nation’s view.
Opposition figures have worked with independent researchers to show that the government is buying Facebook likes from clickfarms in the Philippines and India, racking up thousands of likes for Khmer-language posts in territories where Khmer isn’t spoken. They reported these abuses to Facebook, hoping to get government posts downranked, but Facebook executives gave them the runaround or refused to talk to them. No action was taken on these violations of Facebook’s rules …
[T]he decisions made by Facebook can seem mysterious and arbitrary. But for the Cambodian government, that process has been streamlined by Facebook. Duong said every couple of months, his team would email an employee they work with at Facebook to request a set of accounts be taken down, either based on language they used or because their accounts did not appear to be registered to their real names, a practice Facebook’s rules forbid. Facebook often complies, he said.”
The Cambodian regime is anti-democratic and is well-known for suppressing human rights and for its corruption. Facebook obviously doesn’t care.
The tension seemed to fuse
his spine to his neck
and he found he couldn’t move,
bracing himself for the words he knew
from the smudge-faced fireman.
His brain felt hollow,
as if all the matter had been extracted
to make space
for the cascade of new information,
fragmentary and wounding as it would be
that he anticipated momentarily.
“Your wife, sir.”
Even as he answered, he recoiled with imminent horror;
and even as he recoiled
he hoped – inanely – that his reaction
would not form part of his
“Your wife, sir,
said to tell you,
she’s at her mothers.”
He wondered if he’d ever move
his neck again.