Meta: The West’s Propaganda Machine
This week I opened an Instagram account for this website. I posted political cartoons about the war in Ukraine, the same cartoons I shared on WordPress, Twitter and Gettr. I was surprised to spontaneously receive a notification from Instagram that my post had been removed. I tried again, thinking it was a fluke. Denied. I tried a different cartoon. Denied. I tried three more cartons: denied, denied, denied.
Initially, I blamed it on AI. I gave the machine thinking software the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it had trouble understanding cartoons? Then I saw this post.
The article is about Instagram temporarily allowing posts in Ukraine that call for violence against Russian troops. In a time of war? Shocking. It raises the question, when someone is bombing your apartment complex or your local shops, what exactly are you allowed to write about? Shabby chic design ideas for broken windows and missing walls?
I woke up from my haze. It’s not AI that’s the problem. It’s the people at the helm that want to control what you see and read. Your reality, really. It’s not that far a stretch. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook (Meta), has invested heavily in the metaverse. What is reality any way? Any dystopia can become a garden tea part in the metaverse, especially if you’re coming up with these concepts on the balcony of your mansion overlooking San Francisco Bay. Any war can be escaped through avatars. Just make sure you have a stable internet connection and wear headphones so you don’t damage your ears from the whistle of the missiles and the subsequent booms while you’re sipping your favorite beverage in a lounge with your avatar friends.
Russia hit back with its own version of the metaverse. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state media regulator (aka the government’s censorship arm) told Russians they had three days to save their favorite photos before they cut off access to Instagram.
Russia, one of the kingpins of state censorship, was at war with Meta, one of the kingpins of social media censorship.
“This is wrong,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri responded. “The situation is terrifying, and we’re doing everything we can to keep people safe,” he added. Loss of Instagram terrifying? Instagram keeping people safe? Maybe he should take off his 3D visors and enter the real world.
Mosseri was described as emotionally lamenting the loss of connections people in Russia would face. I would have watched his video first hand on Instagram had I not already deleted my account.
On Sunday, Meta took a step back on its tightrope and issued a statement that it stands against Russophobia and is against any “discrimination, harassment, or violence towards Russians on our platform.”
Meta’s inexperience in public relations on the topic of censorship clearly showed here. Russia easily won this battle. No wonder. They’ve had more experience.
What was Meta saying? That it’s okay for Ukraine to call for violence against Russian troops but not for anyone outside of Ukraine? No one else can post the same thoughts? Is Meta dictating guidelines for speech based on location? How generous to temporarily allow Ukrainians to post about their hell instead of baking recipes or pet videos.
It’s obvious when someone engages in censorship because they have to shift their position to accommodate the prevailing zeitgeist. Meta admitted as much:
“These are difficult decisions. Circumstances in Ukraine are fast moving. We try to think through all the consequences, and we keep our guidance under constant review because the context is always evolving.“ (Italics mine.)
They are effectively acknowledging censorship. In this world, they are no better than Russia’s censorship bureau Roskomnadzor.
Back to my measly cartoon. Apparently, it wasn’t respectful enough to Putin, a paranoid warmonger whose whims are causing immense suffering.
At least they apologetically reach out, “Even if you didn’t mean to offend…”
Yes, I did mean to offend. This is a crazy man with nuclear weapons.
“…our guidelines encourage people to express themselves in a way that’s respectful to everyone.”
Thanks for the saccharine tip. I’ll have to drink a lot of water to get all that sweetness out of my mouth.
Meta thinks kumbaya is the highest moral order. What they miss is sometimes standing up for what’s right means condemning what’s wrong.
But you won’t see that in the Metaverse.