The Facebook Fallacy

13th March 2014

It is simply inscrutable. Why have I never seen one single episode of CSI, given my voracious appetite for the Pistorius trial over the last days?

There is something at once moving and ghoulish to observe a nation’s justice system run its course, and the people’s hero, who once stalked the land like a futuristic satyr, thrust on a slag heap of inconvenient facts.

I am not particularly proud of my YouTube viewing habits (I have streamed live from the Courthouse on occasion), but, in my defence, I don’t deny it.

One of the key factors that makes the Pistorius trial such compulsive viewing is the histrionic-yet-lucid Mr Roux, leader of the Defence for Team Oscar.

Roux is a special kind of war general – one determined to win by simply convincing the enemy that black is white, war is peace, and disagreement is but veiled accord. His prattling is like the sweetest mead, and one leaves the courtroom punch drunk, confused by a special grip on reality which relies on pushing the boundaries of possibility, whilst completely ignoring probability.

Even though the Defence’s logic is coherent, Roux’s essence appears, to me at least, faulty. One senses contradiction, whilst acknowledging how beautifully crafted the hoodwink really is.

Mark Zuckerberg’s extraordinary blog, published today, brings to mind the spirit of the Prattler of Pretoria.

It is at once articulate and passionate, yet, it somehow rings untrue. Faulty.

The Facebook denizen takes to task Obama and the US government for their confusing and frustrating behaviour regarding the Last Empire’s all encompassing breaches of global internet security.

Zuckerberg lambastes his own government for essentially joining the bad guys, and reminds his blog readers how committed Facebook is to the safety and security of the internet, and how it invests so much energy in leading the posse in this regard.

All of which is fine, and honourable – but it is hardly the whole Facebook truth.

Mr Zuckerberg continues to run an enterprise where sharing my business is his business. In so doing, he has contrived to confuse, obfuscate and elide in his presentation of Facebook’s functionality. The result is a triumph of double-think, where he at once claims transparency of experience, yet the user is delivered thick, black opacity.

Zuckerberg owns a brand infamous for betraying privacy, and now pretends to be privacy’s guardian.

Landing in double-think land is a dangerous zone for brand-builders. It is usually a signal that brand owners are beginning to believe their own PR. The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch recently declared war on ugly people (aka most of his customers, by his own inane standards); the CEO of Nestle of late asserted that access to water should not be a public right.

All is fair in love and marketing.

I think Facebook is a wonderful creation making tough choices to dominate in its space. This I am prepared to accept.

I am not, however, as prepared to welcome Mark (as he signed himself on a recent Facebook Celebration Album gift) as evangelist for internet security. Because security’s key benefit is privacy. And I have the distinct impression that my privacy is daily trampled by Facebook.

Next, Mark will have me believe white is black, peace is war, and that Facebook friends are actually friends.

May we Roux that day.


Brian McIntyre 2014

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