An explosive internal memo obtained by Buzzfeed News shows the massive, destructive influence Facebook has had over politics and violent conflict in dozens of countries.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Joe Biden trade barbs over the climate catastrophe, while the president Tweets that he wants to do a four-hour debate with his challenger on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Yep, it’s going to be a stupid kind of day, folks.
And lastly, on that note, the stupidest man alive has struck again. A Daily Beast report shows that mega-moron provocateur Jacob Wohl hired an actor to play an FBI agent and pretend to raid his frequent co-conspirator Jack Burkman’s office.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Buzzfeed Catches Huge Facebook Scoop
“I know that I have blood on my hands by now.” That’s what Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang wrote in her last-ever post on Facebook’s internal messageboard before she was fired.
Zhang’s post was leaked to BuzzFeed news. The information it revealed is both horrifying and in the public interest.
The main gist of the post deals with what Facebook calls “inauthentic activity” around politics and elections. Zhang wrote that her team detected widespread disinformation campaigns and fake account networks at work for various political causes in Honduras, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Spain, the United States and others.
These cases influenced everything from elections to bloody revolutions and governmental responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Some of them Facebook took action on, some of them they did not, because Zhang said her team was often forced to de-prioritize certain cases due to their own workload.
Basically, the people in charge of making sure Facebook doesn’t ruin elections are overworked, and things are slipping through the cracks. Zhang wrote that Facebook leadership often didn’t care much about the democratic process in smaller companies, and only acted when she repeatedly raised the issue internally.
All of this led to her leaving the company, and allegedly turning down a $64,000 severance package so that she wouldn’t have to sign a non-disparagment agreement, and could criticize the company publicly. Still, she specifically wrote that she didn’t want it to go public in the event that it undermined Facebook’s attempts to keep the 2020 election safe. But it’s pretty clear that the public deserves to know, largely because Facebook hasn’t been transparent at all about the stuff that it does catch.
Biden, Trump... and Joe Rogan?
The Trump and Biden campaigns continued their spat over the future of America in the dumbest possible way today: with verbal barbs and promises to go on the Joe Rogan podcast. That’s right everyone we’ve got an update from the dumbest timeline today.
Here’s the scene. Trump once again has said quote “I don’t think science knows” endquote, in relation to the causes of the massive wildfires sweeping the west coast. This is stupid, because science does know: it’s decades of negligent policy that has enabled corporate interests to create a rapidly warming, drastically flammable ecosystem that bursts into flame at every possible opportunity.
In response, Biden called Trump a quote “climate arsonist,” which means. Well. I’m not completely sure what it means. That Trump is responsible for climate change? Yes, true. That Trump is actively trying to enable the forces who have changed the climate? Also true. Ok, we figured out what it means.
You’d almost be forgiven after all that for forgetting that Biden himself has been dragging his feet on climate change for years. Since winning the primary, he’s released a slightly more promising climate plan, but still has obstinately refused to outright denounce harmful practices like fracking.
Anyway, all of this culminated in one of the dumbest toplines of the day. Podcaster extraordianer and or sentient stack of hardboiled eggs Joe Rogan offered to moderate a four-hour debate between Trump and Biden. Even better, Trump said he’d be in on Twitter. That means we could have a situation where the Biden campaign, who went after Bernie Sanders for agreeing to go on Rogan’s sometimes incoherent, occasionally bigoted podcast, agrees to do the exact thing to debate the always incoherent, always racist president.
Personally I can think of much better podcasts to host a presidential debate.
Worlds Stupidest Man At it Again
In slightly lighter, somehow even dumber news, we have a new report on the activities of the stupidest grifters alive. We’re talking about Jacob Wohl, of course.
Wohl, the famous boy-wonder behind such schemes as “Elizabeth Warren slept with a buff Marine” and “Robert Mueller did sexual assault while also appearing in court in a different state, defying the laws of space and time” is back with another scheme. This time, he staged a fake FBI raid on his scam-partner Jack Burkman’s apartment.
The Daily Beast spoke to an actor who says he responded to a Craigslist ad and was paid $400 to wear an FBI windbreaker or shirt and act out a series of scenes inside Burkman’s apartment.
Pictures and videos were then sent by a Twitter account under the name of Bev Donahue to various reporters. Donahue is suspected to be an alias for Wohl, who has used fake accounts on basically every social media service thus far.
The most embarrassing part is that the Washington Post fell for it, reporting on the raid as if it was real. According to the Beast, Burkman was insinuating that high-level government officials were retaliating against him for his efforts to root out corruption in Washington. Right.
The actions of Wohl and Burkman are usually so stupid that they’re harmless, and this case is no exception. But they’re noteworthy if only for the reason that it’s often incredibly hard to distinguish dangerous conspiracy theories from utterly farcical ones, which means that dreck like this often filters into real life politics through major movements like Qanon. One of Wohl’s frequent associates, Laura Loomer, recently won the GOP primary for a Florida cong
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
One more dispatch for WTF-World. Akon, the famous R&B singer, announced today that he is backing a $6 billion smart city in Senegal, called Akon City. Residents inside will use a cryptocurrency called Akoin. You could not make this up, unless you were Akon or his shadowy investor, who may very well be making this up.
In slightly darker news, September 14 marked the 19th birthday of the War on Terror. Peace talks between the Taliban and Afghani government are currently underway in Qatar, proving that we’ve accomplished almost nothing but an enormous amount of pain.
Astronomers announced something weird on Monday: they’d found potential signs of life on Venus, not Mars. Contrary to the dated cliche about gender binaries, the researchers did not find women hanging out on the inhospitable planet. Instead, they found traces of a gas called phosphine that indicates microbes may be present. Never thought much of that cliche anyway.
And finally, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that Governor Tom Wolfe’s coronavirus lockdown orders were unconstitutional, saying that quote “even in an emergency, the authority
of government is not unfettered.” endquote It’s not too likely that this will have national implications, as the Supreme Court has upheld California restrictions on religious gatherings and many other courts have upheld similar rulings.
That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today! Stay tuned for the full show later with Sam.
Sept 15, 2020 - AM Quickie
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn