We of the pre-internet era can recall going to the encyclopedia or phone book for information. We remember the obnoxious sound of dial-up Internet connections, logging on to AOL, having learned to use email, then instant messenger -- arguing with people in chatrooms long before there were such things as "comments" -- all things which by today's standard would seem like an eternity to use.
Yet, we moved along with the advancements of technology into the digital age, the era of instant access, smartphones -- Wikipedia -- and, of course, Facebook.
But despite all precautions, firewalls, anti-virus protections, a Rolodex of various username and password combinations we can hardly remember which are paired with what, we still got duped.
Bots. Trolls. Fake personas. Fake news. Sewing discord in the digital age is seemingly unstoppable, and it is something Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will tell Congress, per his pre-released statement, his platform has been working to do since 2014.
But still, mostly through apps that share information obtained through Facebook when we sign up (or into) them, more than a hundred million of us had our data stolen and, along with it, the data of some 20 million more. All of which, aside from being used to spam us to death with informed, data-driven targeted ads for things our social media profiles gave away as our likes and preferences, we opened the door for foreign interlopers to fiddle with our elections processes by messing with our minds.
They showed us fake news from sites that looked like ones we'd normally visit. They reinforced narratives we were likely to believe to be true, even if they contained not one scintilla of facts.
They sewed said discord, divided us through divisiveness and rigged an already contentious, cantankerous and election not with ballot stuffing or fraudulent registrations but with misinformation and massaging our cognitive dissonance.
And so, being Facebook's fault for making the platform on which most of this transpired, it is now up to Zuckerberg and Facebook to sit before Congress and have the fingers of those who might have benefited from some of these tamperings wagged in their face and then be told to fix it. Prevent it from happening again. Give us back our privacy and sacrifice profitability for accountability.
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